Early mandated social distancing is a strong predictor of reduction in peak daily new COVID-19 cases

Adnan I Qureshi, Muhammad Fareed Suri, H. Chu, H. K. Suri, A. K. Suri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Mandated social distancing has been applied globally to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, the beneficial effects of this community-based intervention have not been proven or quantified for the COVID-19 pandemic. Study design: This is a regional population-level observational study. Methods: Using publicly available data, we examined the effect of timing of mandated social distancing on the rate of COVID-19 cases in 119 geographic regions, derived from 41 states within the United States and 78 other countries. The highest number of new COVID-19 cases per day recorded within a geographic unit was the primary outcome. The total number of COVID-19 cases in regions where case numbers had reached the tail end of the outbreak was an exploratory outcome. Results: We found that the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per day per million persons was significantly associated with the total number of COVID-19 cases per million persons on the day before mandated social distancing (β = 0.66, P < 0.0001). These findings suggest that if mandated social distancing is not initiated until the number of existing COVID-19 cases has doubled, the eventual peak would result in 58% more COVID-19 cases per day. Subgroup analysis on those regions where the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per day has peaked showed increase in β values to 0.85 (P < 0.0001). The total number of cases during the outbreak in a region was strongly predicted by the total number of COVID-19 cases on the day before mandated social distancing (β = 0.97, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Initiating mandated social distancing when the numbers of COVID-19 cases are low within a region significantly reduces the number of new daily COVID-19 cases and perhaps also reduces the total number of cases in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health
Volume190
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Mandated social distancing
  • Quarantine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study

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