Doctor explains why so many major events are being canceled or rescheduled

Doctors say everyone is trying to "flatten the curve" so that the healthcare industry isn't overwhelmed beyond capacity

MADISON, Wis. — Major local and national events have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving many people frustrated.

While there may be questions from community members wondering why this is happening or questioning if all of this is overkill, health experts say this is exactly what we should be doing to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Doctors say it’s a way to “flatten the curve.” Healthcare professionals have been referencing this chart as a way to explain what is happening to the healthcare system from COVID-19 cases and concerns:


3 12 20 Flattening The Curve For Jamie Web

The chart shows that the healthcare industry is seeing a spike in the number of people seeking care at medical facilities. The system can only handle so many people at once (represented by dotted lines in chart). When the system becomes too crowded, there are a lot of people who will not be able to get the proper care because there are not enough staff members or resources to go around.

“If we practice good social distancing, and we wash our hands, if we are sick and we don’t go out, if we cough into our arms, if we do those things and everyone practices that, this curve changes,” Pothof said.

When people practice social distancing, we start to see what’s happening on the bottom curve. Pothof said that curve doesn’t indicate that the number of people who have COVID-19 will decrease, but that the number of people will be spread out over time instead of all of them seeking medical assistance at the same time.

Pothof said if everyone practices social distancing and takes practices good hygiene, it will help slow the spread of the virus so that everyone who will eventually need medical care can be properly treated. Pothof said many are trying to be proactive so that what is happening in Italy and China doesn’t happen here.

“It’s much better to make these interventions a little bit too early than to make them a little bit too late,” Pothof said.

Pothof also urges people who think they might need to be tested for COVID-19 to call the UW Health hotline before showing up to a medical facility. He said many Urgent Care facilities and hospitals are getting overcrowded with people who don’t need to be tested.

Pothof recommends those who are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath to call and ask if they should be tested. He also said with limited test kits available, those with higher health risks and those over the age of 65 will be given priority for testing.