COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout all the daily press conferences held by state leaders regarding updates on the coronavirus and Ohio’s response, one statement has remained the same: “Flatten the curve.”
It’s seen on a graph brought up nearly every day by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, characterized by a tall yellow curve and a shallow blue one — the blue one projecting where the state's peak cases will stand after mitigation efforts from the public and officials.
On Saturday, Dr. Acton offered some good news for the state in regard to those efforts.
"We are flattening the curve in Ohio," she said.
Over the past two days, Acton offered staggering projections to many in the state, where Ohio could be seeing up to 10,000 cases a day at the peak surge of COVID-19 in mid-May.
"So, I'm saying large numbers to you and I know they're scary — 8,000 cases a day, 10,000 cases a day. Those numbers — given 11.7 million people — are actually not that far apart," Acton said. "But the more important thing is this: those numbers are helpful to our planners, but for the rest of us, what it is saying is that we are flatting the curve in Ohio."
Compare that to the yellow curve on Acton's graph, which shows Ohio's projected COVID-19 peak in the case nothing was done to mitigate the spread.
"Those numbers would have been 50 to 75 percent higher than they are right now. Our curve would have been much steeper had we not acted starting a couple weeks ago," she said. "So, the actions you're taking at home are shrinking those numbers."
Starting several weeks ago, Acton joined Gov. Mike DeWine in the press conferences, where the governor began announcing a variety of measures to limit the spread in the state.
Those efforts included limiting mass gatherings, shutting down school for several weeks, ordering the closure of dine-in restaurants and bars and last week, announcing a stay-at-home order for the state.
As of Saturday, ODH confirmed 1,406 cases of COVID-19 in the state. In the past, Acton said numbers confirmed on a daily basis by ODH are just the “tip of the iceberg," and says not everyone can get tested.
Flattening the curve is also intended to help hospitals and health care workers fighting tirelessly to care for those who are ill. Acton says making these projections about Ohio's surge and attempts to flatten that curve will help hospitals better prepare.
Acton on Saturday compared projections for COVID-19 to projecting a hurricane: you know it's coming, but you don't know for sure where and when it will land until it gets closer and you can map the trajectory better.
In the meantime, Acton urged Ohioans to keep staying at home and look out for each other.
"You need to know that what we do — and we keep doing it and doing it, even better and better all the time, is really changing the strength of this hurricane," Acton said. "We know the wave's coming, but we know it’s getting smaller every day in Ohio because of what you’re doing. That’s so important."