Flatten the Curve

“Advice for the general public: How to “Flatten the Curve” by Mercy Hylton, MD

Some advice as an emergency physician, daughter, mother and concerned citizen:

1. Help keep older relatives and neighbors self-quarantined at home. Same goes for those of any age who are immune-compromised (cancer-patients, on immune-suppressant meds for autoimmune diseases, etc.) Pick up and deliver their groceries and prescriptions to their front-door for them. 

2. Healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, pharmacists, environmental services, EMS, etc.), law enforcement and other public agency workers are ESSENTIAL personnel and need to go to work. College students home from school and older high school students can help by stepping up to provide childcare for these families. It is NOT a good idea to ask grandparents to provide childcare if at all possible. The young and healthy can do their part.

3. Postpone all non-essential doctor’s appointments (check-ups and annual physicals, routine follow-ups, elective procedures, etc.) This is to prevent you from being exposed to sick people as well as to free-up physicians’ time to care for the acutely ill.

4. Save the Emergency Room for true emergencies only. Call your primary care doctor’s office before you head to the ER (i.e., NOT just if you have flu-like illness). Many things like rashes, constipation and muscle sprains can wait to be seen in a few days in the office, or recommendations can be given over the phone. DO NOT “play up” symptoms order to be given authorization to go to the ER. 

5. At this time, tests for COVID-19 ARE NOT readily available for people with mild illness. If you are not sick enough to be admitted to a hospital for respiratory distress and low oxygenation, you are unlikely to be tested. DO NOT go to the ER, urgent care or your doctor’s office for a test just so you can definitively know if you can go back to work. It’s not going to happen at this time. This may change in upcoming days as tests and the regulations on their use change.

6. Many children from low-income homes receive 2 free meals a day at school, and school cancellation for weeks may be a heavy burden to these families. Donate or volunteer at community food banks. 

7. Your kids are going to go stir-crazy in the next weeks since many schools have been closed and spring vacation plans have been cancelled. However, this is NOT a good time to go to the Children’s Museum, movie theater, arcade or other indoor group activities. Playing outside is a good idea, with the exception of people who have a history of asthma or environmental allergies (which may get worse outside). Put them to work with projects around the house: spring cleaning, cleaning out your closets, cleaning out the garage, etc.

8. Social distancing does not mean we should not continue to patronize businesses, but we should do it in responsible ways. Order take out instead of eating out. Order groceries online and pickup. Go to the grocery store at low-volume times (early morning). 

9. Business owners, PLEASE send home employees with any sign of illness, and please be understanding of your employees struggles with lost income and finding alternative childcare. PLEASE DO NOT REQUIRE A DOCTOR’S STATEMENT from your employees. 

10. Get your information from responsible sources. Do not stir panic. Do not hoard supplies or food. Do not take advantage of others’ misfortune or ill-planning. Be extra patient and kind with everyone and in all venues. 

This is a great time to teach our children the value of community-mindedness, not wasting food or other goods, prudent use of resources, healthy habits like hand-washing and avoiding public outings if you are ill, planning not panicking, etc. Our children are watching and learning from us. 

#FlattenTheCurve #SocialDistancing #StayHome #DoYourPart

Mercy Hylton, MD

Pediatric Emergency Physician


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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  17 comments for “Flatten the Curve

  1. Bridget Reidy
    March 15, 2020 at 3:03 am

    OMG the US is just discovering this?! There has been community spread there for quite some time: The whole population should know this by now!
    Please disseminate as much as possible, or tell people to see the wiki entry on social distancing. It will be a tough sell because it might be too late. And because it takes two weeks to see the results, and you won’t even see the results at first with so little testing before and after. Increased access to testing will make it look like a failure even if it’s not. Prepare people for this. Use every platform you have access to. The Titanic is a good analogy, you have to be able to see the icebergs and you have to be able to start the turn long before you need to turn.

    It’s not testing, testing and testing anymore. Too late. It’s social distancing, hygiene, and testing. I’d add a WW2 sense of all on board dedication, and paying people to stay home.

    • Janey Corning
      March 15, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      The article is good expect for the part that advises sending those with asthma and allergies to clean. Clearly, this doctor doesn’t have personal experience with asthma and allergies, as cleaning products and cleaning the garage are high trigger points for us. ??‍♀️ Not to mention the insensitivity to suggest going outside is a good activity for everyone except those with asthma and allergies. How about suggesting this a good time to manage asthma and allergies by taking their medication? How about suggesting going for a drive?

  2. Rachael Morton MD
    March 13, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Funny cause Kevin MD got it right.


    I’m signing off. It’s time to go to work now and take care of actual patients.

  3. Heather
    March 13, 2020 at 9:29 am

    The top of the article and the bio are crediting the wrong author. Please give Dr. Hylton credit for her well deserved work!

    • Douglas Farrago MD
      March 13, 2020 at 9:44 am

      I do not know who you are. I do not care who you are. I allowed this author whose name is ON THE BOTTOM to do a guest post. Only the regular writers have full bios. Now, I let this author get this information out for the public. I would not normally do that but it is for the greater good. I do not want credit for this work. This is how the wordpress site works. So……STFU. This is not about ego.

  4. Rachael morton md
    March 13, 2020 at 9:18 am

    The author is dr Mercy Hylton!

    • Douglas Farrago MD
      March 13, 2020 at 9:46 am

      I do not know who you are. I do not care who you are. I allowed this author whose name is ON THE BOTTOM to do a guest post. Only the regular writers have full bios. Now, I let this author get this information out for the public. I would not normally do that but it is for the greater good. I do not want credit for this work. This is how the wordpress site works. So……STFU. This is not about ego

      • Rachael Morton MD
        March 13, 2020 at 10:33 am

        Wow. How are we supposed to know that?
        We thought it was an honest mistake and he wrong person was credited.
        Are you the owner of authentic medicine?
        Who says STFU to another physician for pointing out that the author credited at the top of the article is the wrong one.
        I want an apology. NOW

        • Douglas Farrago MD
          March 13, 2020 at 10:57 am

          You did not THINK it was an honest mistake. You thought we stole it. You accused us of that. And now you demand an apology? You don’t really know about us, do you? We are not that nice. You’ve been warned. Go away

          • Rachael Morton MD
            March 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

            Clearly I do not know who you are. Thank you for showing your true colors. You should be ashamed of yourself.
            I demand an apology for you telling me to STFU.
            I thought you made a mistake, but now I know you are the exact type of person you think I thought you were.
            Next time title you story:
            Guest Post: Flatten the Curve
            and there won’t be any issues.

          • Douglas Farrago MD
            March 13, 2020 at 12:47 pm

            Sure. Let me run everything by you before we publish something. Don’t know how we survived for 20 years without you? And still waiting for your apology.

        • Holly
          March 13, 2020 at 11:57 am

          Dr. Morton,
          You should be proud that others’ thought your recommendations were important enough to publish them to a wider audience.

          The fact that you do not understand how templates work is surprising as EPIC, and ever single other medical software product, uses templates. It’s one of the limitations that physicians and support staff find frustrating, “why do I have to go here to find that or post this?”

          So instead of demanding an apology, because of an ASSUMPTION on your part, you should thank Dr. Farrago for giving you a wider audience exposure.

          • Douglas Farrago MD
            March 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm

            Thank you

          • Douglas Farrago MD
            March 13, 2020 at 12:43 pm

            BTW, this was not Dr. Morton’s post. It was her friend’s post, who found me on FB, who wanted to get the word out. We broke tradition and allowed a nonwriter to do this. Two people (her friends) assumed I was stealing this and trying to grab credit. I don’t need or want the credit. No good deed goes unpunished. Still waiting for their apologies.

        • Pat
          March 13, 2020 at 12:45 pm

          Perhaps, because one assumes you can read? Go bounce yourself sister. The owner, editor, and benevolent monarch of this site has for many years provided 100% integrity and isn’t looking for some attaboys from the carpers in the cheap seats. An occasional, richly deserved STFU gets applied, so accept it in good health.

          And remember, reading is fundamental.


Comments are closed.