The total count of cumulative cases will never decrease unless the disease is eradicated — that’s not a likely scenario, nor used by experts to gauge disease spread. But, multiple daily counts can indicate when the curve is “flattening,” signaling that all cases are plateauing. Since cases began to grow exponentially in the U.S., the public health goal has largely revolved around mitigating spread and preparing for potential patient surge by bulking up the health care system. In theory, if the former — reducing spread through social distancing — succeeds, the latter — overtaxing the healthcare system — becomes less of a threat. Essentially, if public health strategies work, worst-case-scenario preparations become less necessary.

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Alex Rozier, from New York City, is Mississippi Today’s data and environment reporter. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Open Secrets, and on In 2019, Alex was a grantee through the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines program, which supported his coverage around the impact of climate change on Mississippi fisheries.

Erica Hensley, a native of Atlanta, has been working as an investigative reporter focusing on public health for Mississippi Today since May 2018. She is a Knight Foundation fellow for our newsroom’s collaboration with local TV station WLBT and curates The Inform[H]er, our monthly women and girls’ newsletter. She is the 2019 recipient of the Doris O'Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship. Erica received a bachelor’s in print journalism and political science from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a master’s in health and medical journalism from the University of Georgia Grady College for Journalism and Mass Communication.