Evaluating the Effectiveness of Social Distancing Interventions to Delay or Flatten the Epidemic Curve of Coronavirus Disease

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Aug;26(8):1740-1748. doi: 10.3201/eid2608.201093. Epub 2020 Apr 28.

Abstract

By April 2, 2020, >1 million persons worldwide were infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. We used a mathematical model to investigate the effectiveness of social distancing interventions in a mid-sized city. Interventions reduced contacts of adults >60 years of age, adults 20-59 years of age, and children <19 years of age for 6 weeks. Our results suggest interventions started earlier in the epidemic delay the epidemic curve and interventions started later flatten the epidemic curve. We noted that, while social distancing interventions were in place, most new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were averted, even with modest reductions in contact among adults. However, when interventions ended, the epidemic rebounded. Our models suggest that social distancing can provide crucial time to increase healthcare capacity but must occur in conjunction with testing and contact tracing of all suspected cases to mitigate virus transmission.

Keywords: 2019 novel coronavirus disease; COVID-19; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; coronavirus disease; disease transmission; mathematical model; nonpharmaceutical interventions; respiratory infections; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; social distancing interventions; viruses; zoonoses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cities
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data
  • Contact Tracing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Incubation Period
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Patient Isolation / methods
  • Patient Isolation / statistics & numerical data
  • Physical Distancing
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology