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- Mar 2020
Right now, in mid-March of 2020, Americans are getting a full taste of communicable disease mitigation—measures aimed at slowing the exponential rise of new infections, once a disease is already established within a population—and are becoming familiar with two related terms. One is “social distancing”: for instance, closing schools and universities, cancelling sports events and religious services, encouraging work from home and self-isolation, to make each person-to-person jump of the pathogen more difficult. The other is “flattening the curve”, in other words preventing new cases from piling up too quickly (preventing the curve of new cases over time from rising too sharply) and thereby swamping the capacity of hospitals and medical personnel to deal with them.