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Social distancing to slow the US COVID-19 epidemic: Longitudinal pretest–posttest comparison group study

by Mark J. Siedner, Guy Harling, Zahra Reynolds, Rebecca F. Gilbert, Sebastien Haneuse, Atheendar S. Venkataramani, Alexander C. Tsai

Background

Social distancing measures to address the US coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic may have notable health and social impacts.

Methods and findings

We conducted a longitudinal pretest–posttest comparison group study to estimate the change in COVID-19 case growth before versus after implementation of statewide social distancing measures in the US. The primary exposure was time before (14 days prior to, and through 3 days after) versus after (beginning 4 days after, to up to 21 days after) implementation of the first statewide social distancing measures. Statewide restrictions on internal movement were examined as a secondary exposure. The primary outcome was the COVID-19 case growth rate. The secondary outcome was the COVID-19-attributed mortality growth rate. All states initiated social distancing measures between March 10 and March 25, 2020. The mean daily COVID-19 case growth rate decreased beginning 4 days after implementation of the first statewide social distancing measures, by 0.9% per day (95% CI −1.4% to −0.4%; P P = 0.14), but there is substantial difficulty in disentangling the unique associations with statewide restrictions on internal movement from the unique associations with the first social distancing measures. Beginning 7 days after social distancing, the COVID-19-attributed mortality growth rate decreased by 2.0% per day (95% CI −3.0% to −0.9%; P Conclusions

Statewide social distancing measures were associated with a decrease in the COVID-19 case growth rate that was statistically significant. Statewide social distancing measures were also associated with a decrease in the COVID-19-attributed mortality growth rate beginning 7 days after implementation, although this decrease was no longer statistically significant by 10 days.


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Paper source
Plos Journal

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