NEW YORK — Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has reportedly bought a billboard in the real world to encourage people to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Ohanian told Forbes he’s put up the billboard Saturday for a one-day run in New York’s Times Square. It features the line “Staying home means saving lives” and includes a hashtag at the bottom: #FlattenTheCurve.
The idea “just kind of popped in my head,” Ohanian told the publication in an interview, saying he hoped the message would push people to take the crisis more seriously.
“It was a deliberate approach to think, what is one of the densest populations of people in the U.S.? And on a normal day that would be Times Square,” he said. “And then you have this cultural prominence. The sort of meme of it is here is a billboard in Times Square about flattening the curve, just preventative measures to defeat COVID-19.”
The idea of flattening the curve comes from a 2017 Centers for Disease Control paper about slowing the spread of a pandemic so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. The idea, essentially, is to slow the rate of infections so hospitals can treat more people over more time.
On Twitter, Ohanian posted a tweet with the billboard’s hashtag Saturday. He said feedback so far has been positive, and he’s considering whether to put up more billboards in other cities.