COVID-19 Glossary

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flatten the curve

Flattening the curve refers to taking protective actions, often called community mitigation measures, that help slow the spread of a disease so the health care system does not get overwhelmed by having a lot of very sick people all at once. The protective actions can be things like canceling large gatherings, keeping space between people (called social distancing), and continuing to do things like washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when sick.


Fomite is an object (such as a dish or a doorknob) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission.” While this word is infrequently encountered, there has been considerable talk of late about possible surfaces and objects which might harbor infectious substances, and it may well be useful to have this specific word at hand.