As the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., more and more businesses are sending employees off to work from home. Public schools are closing, universities are holding classes online, major events are getting canceled, and cultural institutions are shutting their doors. Even Disney World and Disneyland are set to close. The disruption of daily life for many Americans is real and significant — but so are the potential life-saving benefits.
It’s all part of an effort to do what epidemiologists call flattening the curve of the pandemic. The idea is to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus, so that you don’t get a huge spike in the number of people getting sick all at once. If that were to happen, there wouldn’t be enough hospital beds or mechanical ventilators for everyone who needs them, and the U.S. hospital system would be overwhelmed. That’s already happening in Italy.