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State variation in effects of state social distancing policies on COVID-19 cases.

Kaufman BG, Whitaker R, Mahendraratnam N, Hurewitz S, Yi J, Smith VA, McClellan M. State variation in effects of state social distancing policies on COVID-19 cases. BMC public health. 2021 Jun 28; 21(1):1239.

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BACKGROUND: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) sickened over 20 million residents in the United States (US) by January 2021. Our objective was to describe state variation in the effect of initial social distancing policies and non-essential business (NEB) closure on infection rates early in 2020. METHODS: We used an interrupted time series study design to estimate the total effect of all state social distancing orders, including NEB closure, shelter-in-place, and stay-at-home orders, on cumulative COVID-19 cases for each state. Data included the daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths for all 50 states and Washington, DC from the New York Times database (January 21 to May 7, 2020). We predicted cumulative daily cases and deaths using a generalized linear model with a negative binomial distribution and a log link for two models. RESULTS: Social distancing was associated with a 15.4% daily reduction (Relative Risk? = 0.846; Confidence Interval [CI]? = 0.832, 0.859) in COVID-19 cases. After 3 weeks, social distancing prevented nearly 33 million cases nationwide, with about half (16.5 million) of those prevented cases among residents of the Mid-Atlantic census division (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania). Eleven states prevented more than 10,000 cases per 100,000 residents within 3 weeks. CONCLUSIONS: The effect of social distancing on the infection rate of COVID-19 in the US varied substantially across states, and effects were largest in states with highest community spread.

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