COVID-19: What does it mean to flatten the curve?

A brief look at COVID-19 infection rates in South Korea and Italy.

COVID-19 Situation Overview

Figure 1: Heatmap of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, 4/1/20 (Tableau Public)
Table 1: Countries with Highest Confirmed Cases as Percent of Total

What is the “curve” and what does it mean to “flatten” it?

Figure 2: Total Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in South Korea (Matplotlib/ Python)
Figure 3: Daily Increase in Confirmed Cases in South Korea (Matplotlib/ Python)
Figure 4: Total Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Italy (Matplotlib/ Python)
Figure 5: Daily Increase in Confirmed Cases in Italy (Matplotlib/ Python)