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COVID-19: What does #FlattenTheCurve even mean?

COVID-19: What does #FlattenTheCurve even mean? If you are a human on Earth, then I’m sure you’ve heard about the coronavirus and are currently social distancing. Here in NYC, I’m quarantining like everyone else and listening to all the beautiful math language that has suddenly become mainstream (so, exciting)! #FlattenTheCurve has become NY’s new catchphrase and for anyone confused about what that means, you’ve come to the right place!

The coronavirus spreads at an Exponential Rate, which means it spreads in a way that increases faster and faster every day.

What does this mean?

For Example, one person with the virus can easily spread the virus to 5 other people, those 5 people can then spread the virus to another 5 people each for a total of an extra 25 people, these 25 people can then spread it to another 5 people each for an extra 125 infected people! And the pattern continues……. See below to get a clearer picture:

. *Note: These numbers are not based on actual coronavirus data

The Example we just went over is equal to the exponential equation , but it is only that, an Example! The exact pattern and exponential equation of the future progress of the virus is unknown! We mathematicians, can only measure what has already occurred and prepare/model for the future. To make the virus spread less rapidly, it is our duty to stay home to slow the rate of this exponentially spreading virus as much as possible.

We want to #FlattenTheCurve a.k.a flatten the increasing exponential curve of new coronavirus cases that appear every day! Hopefully, this post brings some clarity to what’s going on in the world right now. Even with mathematics, the true outcome of the virus may be unknown, but understanding why we are all at home in the first place and the positive impact it has is also important (and kind of cool).

Stay safe math friends and happy calculating! 🙂

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