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HomeHealth ConditionsCOVID-19Why It’s Important to Continue to Flatten the Curve

Why It’s Important to Continue to Flatten the Curve

A recent study used data to assess the link between daily ICU and non-ICU COVID-19 hospital bed use and overall COVID-19 mortality, supporting efforts to flatten the curve. 

Social distancing and the use of masks are important preventative measures in the fight against COVID-19. The efforts taken to “flatten the curve” reduce the number of infected individuals, reducing the burden on the healthcare system. But how does flattening the curve impact on overall mortality rates? In a recent study, researchers investigated the link between daily ICU and non-ICU hospital bed use by COVID-19 patients and overall mortality from COVID-19.

Data was obtained from the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project. The researchers observed 1,056 cases across 23 states between March and June 2020. As part of the study, daily ICU and non-ICU bed use and the number of COVID-19 deaths that ensued in the following seven days were monitored. ICU and non-ICU bed usage were determined as a percent of current COVID-19 patients to total ICU and non-ICU beds.     

Increased COVID-19 cases was associated with increased mortality

The researchers reported the average number of COVID-19-related ICU cases to be 19.6% and non-ICU related cases as 5.5%. The study analysis concluded that an increase in 17 COVID-19 patient ICU beds correlated with a 2.84-point increase in the number of deaths over the course of the next week. In comparison, an increase in 130 non-ICU beds corresponded with a 17.84-point rise in COVID-19 death rates.

The study findings affirm that higher mortality rates follow an increased number of hospitalizations in both ICU and non-ICU bed use. The implications of the research supports the importance of efforts to flatten the curve in order to avoid overburdening healthcare systems.

By scientifically identifying the relationship between the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and subsequent deaths, the data supports the necessity in taking precautions against COVID-19 as countries begin to reopen and resume economic activities. The results suggest that efforts to flatten the curve should remain in place in order to reduce the burden on the healthcare system and ultimately reduce COVID-19 mortality.

Written by Melody Sayrany

Image by Silvia Tormo from Pixabay 

Melody Sayrany MSc
Melody Sayrany MSc
Melody Sayrany is a seasoned science writer with a host of experiences in cancer, neuroscience, aging, and metabolism research. She completed her BSc at The University of California, San Diego, and her MSc in biology, focusing on metabolic diseases during aging, at the University of British Columbia. Melody is passionate about science communication, and she aims to bridge the gap between complex scientific concepts and the broader community through compelling storytelling.


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