Background: Social distancing is encouraged to mitigate viral spreading during outbreaks. However, the association between distancing and patient-centered outcomes in Covid-19 has not been demonstrated. In the United States social distancing orders are implemented at the state level with variable timing of onset. Emergency declarations and school closures were two early statewide interventions.
Methods: To determine whether later distancing interventions were associated with higher mortality, we performed a state-level analysis in 55,146 Covid-19 non-survivors. We tested the association between timing of emergency declarations and school closures with 28-day mortality using multivariable negative binomial regression. Day 1 for each state was set to when they recorded ≥ 10 deaths. We performed sensitivity analyses to test model assumptions.
Results: At time of analysis, 37 of 50 states had ≥ 10 deaths and 28 follow-up days. Both later emergency declaration (adjusted mortality rate ratio [aMRR] 1.05 per day delay, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.09, p=0.040) and later school closure (aMRR 1.05, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.09, p=0.008) were associated with more deaths. When assessing all 50 states and setting day 1 to the day a state recorded its first death, delays in declaring an emergency (aMRR 1.05, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.09, p=0.020) or closing schools (aMRR 1.06, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.09, p<0.001) were associated with more deaths. Results were unchanged when excluding New York and New Jersey.
Conclusions: Later statewide emergency declarations and school closure were associated with higher Covid-19 mortality. Each day of delay increased mortality risk 5 to 6%.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; nonpharmaceutical interventions; pandemic; social distancing.
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