The Latest: “Flatten the curve” is back

Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readDec 4, 2020


Dear Reader,

As I’ve shared with you, I am hopeful about the Covid-19 vaccines currently under review. But I am very worried about what’s happening right with Covid-19 cases. Infection rates are increasing at record-breaking levels, which means hospitalizations and deaths are likely to follow.

But it’s important to reiterate that a vaccine isn’t needed to keep cases low. Remember when the slogan of the pandemic was “flatten the curve”? As Dr. Theresa Chapple recently shared on Twitter, a bleak winter does not have to be inevitable. There are specific things you and your loved ones can do to prevent infection, like wearing masks, distancing, and reconsidering indoor activities. What was relatively safe in the summer is less safe right now.

This is really hard and fatiguing. My family will not be spending Christmas together for the first time ever and I am very sad about it. But it’s worth it. As Andy Slavitt recently wrote:

“When the dawn comes, consider how sweet it will be. Whatever you’ve been waiting for the most — how that hug will feel. And how much new energy we will have. We can then begin the repair together.”

👀 Speaking of Andy Slavitt, mark your calendar for December 8th at 1PM PT/4PM ET and tune into a live conversation between Slavitt and Elemental editor-in-chief, Sarah Collins. They will be discussing the future of the coronavirus pandemic. I’ll be there, and hope you’ll join us! Register here for the free event.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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Here’s what we’re talking about on the Blog:

The CDC’s new quarantine guidelines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their quarantine recommendations, offering people the options to isolate for seven or 10 days instead of two weeks after a potential exposure to the coronavirus. The shorter timelines require that people have no symptoms and continue to wear a mask for the full 14 days. The one-week quarantine also hinges on a negative test after at least five days post-exposure, Dana Smith reports. Read more.

What the world can learn from Africa’s Covid-19 response. Where the U.S. has floundered in its handling of the pandemic, several African countries have succeeded. Tiffany Onyejiaka reports on the many lessons from Africa’s response, including the idea that if you stay ready, it takes less to get ready. Read the other lessons here.

Kids likely won’t be in the first round of vaccinations. Clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine for children are only just beginning. Most kids will not be vaccinated until later in 2021. Is this OK? Jesse Smith reports that children, particularly infants and toddlers, have immune systems that are highly reactive and you cannot assume a child will react to a vaccine in the same way as an adult, so special trials are needed. “The delay in validating a Covid-19 vaccine in children is intentional, and an important step in creating a vaccine that is safe for all groups of people,” he writes. Here’s more.

A few more smart reads:

How to Manage Long Covid-19 Symptoms and Fatigue

What Pivoting Looks Like in a Pandemic

Should You Buy an Air Purifier for Covid-19?

An Inside Look at South Korea’s Covid-19 Warning System

Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line (New York Times)



Alexandra Sifferlin
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that