Timing of Community Mitigation and Changes in Reported COVID-19 and Community Mobility - Four U.S. Metropolitan Areas, February 26-April 1, 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Apr 17;69(15):451-457. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6915e2.


Community mitigation activities (also referred to as nonpharmaceutical interventions) are actions that persons and communities can take to slow the spread of infectious diseases. Mitigation strategies include personal protective measures (e.g., handwashing, cough etiquette, and face coverings) that persons can use at home or while in community settings; social distancing (e.g., maintaining physical distance between persons in community settings and staying at home); and environmental surface cleaning at home and in community settings, such as schools or workplaces. Actions such as social distancing are especially critical when medical countermeasures such as vaccines or therapeutics are not available. Although voluntary adoption of social distancing by the public and community organizations is possible, public policy can enhance implementation. The CDC Community Mitigation Framework (1) recommends a phased approach to implementation at the community level, as evidence of community spread of disease increases or begins to decrease and according to severity. This report presents initial data from the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; and New York City, New York* to describe the relationship between timing of public policy measures, community mobility (a proxy measure for social distancing), and temporal trends in reported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Community mobility in all four locations declined from February 26, 2020 to April 1, 2020, decreasing with each policy issued and as case counts increased. This report suggests that public policy measures are an important tool to support social distancing and provides some very early indications that these measures might help slow the spread of COVID-19.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Public Policy
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*