Study shows physical distancing slowed growth of COVID-19 in US

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Between March 10 and March 25, 2020, all 50 states and the District of Columbia enacted no less than one statewide physical distancing measure to assist cease the unfold of COVID-19. New analysis from clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) present these government-issued physical distancing orders considerably slowed the COVID-19 epidemic, resulting in an estimated discount of greater than 600,000 instances inside three weeks of implementation. The findings have been not too long ago revealed in PLOS Medicine.

“Many have strongly suspected that physical distancing policies helped interrupt COVID-19 transmission during the early days of the U.S. epidemic,” stated Mark J. Siedner, MD, MPH, an infectious illnesses doctor at MGH and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who co-authored the analysis. “This study adds clear evidence to support those suspicions. The results show the timing of government-issued orders correlated strongly with reductions in both cases and deaths. In short, these measures work, and policy makers should use them as an arrow in their quivers to get on top of local epidemics where they are not responding to containment measures.”

The MGH researchers—in collaboration with colleagues at University College London, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Perelman School of Medicine on the University of Pennsylvania—analyzed information from the primary 5 months of the COVID-19 epidemic in the U.S. They collected information on government-issued orders on statewide physical distancing measures and in contrast adjustments in COVID-19 instances and COVID-19-attributed deaths in states that applied physical distancing measures earlier than and after implementation.

The outcomes present the typical each day COVID-19 case growth price started declining roughly one (i.e. 4 days) after implementation of the primary statewide physical distancing measures. The interval of time required for the quantity of instances to double (epidemic doubling time) elevated from roughly 4 days to eight days inside three weeks of implementation. These findings are in keeping with different not too long ago revealed work. What is exclusive to this new research is researchers discovered that the typical each day COVID-19-attributed loss of life price additionally started declining after the implementation of physical distancing measures, which previous to this research had not been analyzed.

The research checked out a big selection of measures, together with college and enterprise closures, restrictions on public gathering, and shelter-in-place orders. Most mixtures of these orders appeared to have equally useful results. Because the differing types of physical distancing measures have been usually applied in shut temporal proximity to one another, the analysis group was unable to find out particularly which sorts of physical distancing measures have been best.

The findings of the mannequin recommend that statewide physical distancing measures lowered the whole quantity of reported COVID-19 instances by roughly 1,600 instances by one week after implementation and—as a result of exponential growth of the unfold—by roughly 621,000 instances by three weeks after implementation.

One of probably the most important limitations of the research is that the implementation of statewide physical distancing measures was not a managed experiment. If state governments intensified physical distancing measures in response to worsening native epidemics, the evaluation would seemingly have proven that the insurance policies have been much less efficient. The authors additional emphasize that, in many states, folks might have begun spontaneously altering their habits in response to a worsening native epidemic even previous to any statewide measures.

“The findings show that physical distancing measures slowed the growth of the COVID-19 epidemic and saved lives, and also bought our health care leaders some time to fortify their surge capacity to deal with the ,” stated senior writer Alexander C. Tsai, MD, psychiatrist at MGH and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Unfortunately, the national response has largely abdicated the responsibilities of planning a coordinated response, so we probably could have done more sooner. This means much of the time before these local measures were implemented was simply wasted.”

Added Siedner: “This is a case where past success does not predict future control. COVID-19 case growth appears to be trending upward in many states around the country, including Massachusetts. If containment and more conservative measures fail, we should be prepared to slow or reverse reopening efforts. Until a vaccine is made available and widely deployed in an equitable fashion, we have few other options. Fortunately, our data show that these measures work—if we have the wherewithal to use them.”


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Study shows physical distancing slowed growth of COVID-19 in US (2020, August 11)
retrieved 11 August 2020
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