A number of countries around the world have been lockdown for weeks in an effort toand reduce the spread of coronavirus. Flattening the curve does not necessarily mean seeing a decrease in total cases right away; it would first produce a decline in the number of new cases, which should result in fewer hospitalizations and death in the weeks that follow.
By flattening the curve, officials hope to ensure that the health care system doesn’t become overwhelmed and unable to help those who need it. With some of the most affected countries like Spain and Italy on lockdown for weeks, many are wondering if their efforts are actually working.
Here’s what data from Johns Hopkins can show us:
Italy – lockdown since March 9
Italy has been under a nationwide lockdown for about four weeks and the country has begun to flatten the curve. Italy hit its apparent peak in daily cases on March 20, with more than 6,000 new cases that day. On March 29 and 30, Italy saw a drop in daily cases for two consecutive days.
Since then, the number of daily cases has stayed between 4,000 and about 4,800. When looking at the growth of the virus over time in Italy, it appears the curve is flattening.
Spain – lockdown since March 15
Spain now has more confirmed cases than Italy, with over 135,000. A peak in daily cases occurred on the March 24, with more than 9,000 cases reported that day. However, the daily increase has continue to drop in recent days. Starting on April 1, Spain saw a drop in daily cases for four consecutive days.
Similar to Italy, when looking at a graph of the virus’ spread over time, it appears Spain is starting to flatten the curve.
France – lockdown since March 17
France has been on lockdown for about the same amount of time as Spain. The growth of the virus has been steady recently, except for a spike on April 3, which could have been caused by new reporting measures. Last week, the country also saw a spike in deaths after the health ministry began including nursing home fatalities in its data, according to Reuters.
After the spike on April 3, the number of daily cases dropped substantially, with just about 3,000 new cases on April 4. If this steady number of daily cases continues, the country will flatten its curve.
China – partial lockdown since January 23
China saw a huge spike in new cases on one day, with over 15,000 new cases on February 12. However, the growth significantly slowed after that. Hubei province, where the virus originated, went on lockdown at the end of January. More and more areas of the country were later locked down, but restrictions in some areas have already been lifted.
Wuhan’s lockdown is set to be lifted on April 8, nearly two and a half months after it was imposed.
There has been doubt raised by President Trump and health officials around the world about whether China is releasing accurate data on its number of cases.
Austria & Germany
Austria has managed to prevent a huge spike in daily cases since March 29. The country has been shut down for about three weeks and its government says that may be enough. Austria plans to start reopening shops next week, although it will require residents to wear masks, according to Reuters.
“We reacted faster and more restrictively than in other countries and could therefore avoid the worst. But this fast and restrictive reaction now also gives us the possibility to come out of this crisis more quickly,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
Like Austria, Germany plans to reopen soon. The country has been under a lockdown since March 22 and became the fourth country to top 100,000 cases. Still, officials hope to return to normal life on April 19 — that’s just under a month of lockdown. According to Reuters, Germany would implement a list of steps including mandatory mask-wearing in public and limits on gatherings.
United States – first statewide “stay at home” orders began March 19
The earliest statewide “stay at home” order began in California on March 19 and New York soon followed. The majority of states have since done the same, although a few governors are still holding out.
U.S. health officials predict the peak lies ahead, with President Trump warning of a “hell of a bad two weeks” to come.
The U.S. has more cases confirmed than any other country, with over 337,000 as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins. Only some parts of the country, like California, have showed evidence of flattening the curve.
“Right now the California Department of Public health reports 10,000 cases since early March and 237 deaths, and it looks like the numbers of new cases right now is actually pretty steady,” Dr. Jeffery Klausner, UCLA Professor of Medicine and Public Health, told CBS Sacramento.
In New York, the current epicenter of the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on April 2 that the state’s apex, or “battle of the mountaintop,” could come this week or next, CBS New York reported. On Monday, Cuomo said the number of new cases appears to have leveled off in the last few days.
“It could still go any way. We could still see an increase,” Cuomo said Monday. “It still depends on what we do.”
First published on April 6, 2020 / 12:13 PM
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.Caitlin O’Kane
Caitlin O’Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.