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Social distancing

Yesterday’s post received a lot of debate regarding the efficacy (effectiveness) of social distancing. Well, guess what! There’s a study for that…

It actually just came out two days ago (July 30). And there’s a lot to unpack.

This study evaluated whether social distancing mitigates spread. Spoiler: It does. BUT, and this is a big but, it’s dependent on whether the response was coordinated or not. These scientists looked at 134 nations and compared the impact of their social distancing policies. Briefly:

-Countries with a national, coordinated social distancing response (i.e. not the US) reduced COVID-19 transmission by 65% in two weeks. Yes, only two weeks. This prevented an estimated 1.57 million COVID19 cases.


-Interestingly, and importantly for the US, COVID19 spread was NO different among countries with regional responses (i.e. the US) compared to countries that had NO social distancing response at all.

-In the US: There were/are 3 states without statewide social distancing policies: SD, WY, NE. SD and NE has seen the two smallest reductions in COVID19 spread.

So, like I said yesterday, a fragmented, whack-a-mole response is just not going to work. Cases were up in the Northeast, then went down. Then went up in the South (and are still up). Now the Midwest is seeing their second wave. We better buckle up until our response, as a nation, changes.

Love, your local epidemiologist

Data source: Figures and data are from the brilliant: McGrail et al. (July 30, 2020). Enacting National Social Distancing Policies Corresponds with Dramatic Reduction in COVID19 Infection Rates. PLOS ONE.

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