I Have a Question About “Flattening the Curve”

I’m puzzled by something. A few weeks ago, before we had adopted any social distancing measures, the COVID-19 models suggested that we’d hit a peak of 5,000+ deaths per day sometime in late April or early May. Then, in mid-March, we started adopting countermeasures. Famously, these countermeasures were supposed to “flatten the curve.”

As you can see, countermeasures were supposed to lower the peak number of deaths but push the peak outward. The total number of deaths would stay roughly the same.

But that isn’t what’s happened. The peak has been pulled forward and the total number of deaths has been cut by two-thirds or more. What’s going on here? What am I missing?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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