May 15, 2020 - Health

Study: Government-enforced coronavirus social distancing works

 People enjoying some food and coffee inside a cafe
Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Stringent social distancing measures imposed by state and local governments in the U.S. led to slower spread of the coronavirus, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: One of the most effective measures was COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, which many states are lifting before public health experts say is safe.

Details: The study examined the impact of several social distancing measures.

  • It found that government-imposed shelter-in-place orders and closures of entertainment venues, gyms, bars, and restaurant dining areas had a significant impact on the spread of the virus.
  • But the study didn't find evidence that school closures or large event bans had an impact on spread.

The big picture: "Holding the amount of voluntary social distancing constant, these results imply 10 times greater spread by April 27 without [shelter in place orders] (10 million cases) and more than 35 times greater spread without any of the four measures (35 million)," the authors write.

Go deeper: Most Americans are practicing social distancing

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