Timing of State and Territorial COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders and Changes in Population Movement - United States, March 1-May 31, 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Sep 4;69(35):1198-1203. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6935a2.


SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is thought to spread from person to person primarily by the respiratory route and mainly through close contact (1). Community mitigation strategies can lower the risk for disease transmission by limiting or preventing person-to-person interactions (2). U.S. states and territories began implementing various community mitigation policies in March 2020. One widely implemented strategy was the issuance of orders requiring persons to stay home, resulting in decreased population movement in some jurisdictions (3). Each state or territory has authority to enact its own laws and policies to protect the public's health, and jurisdictions varied widely in the type and timing of orders issued related to stay-at-home requirements. To identify the broader impact of these stay-at-home orders, using publicly accessible, anonymized location data from mobile devices, CDC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute analyzed changes in population movement relative to stay-at-home orders issued during March 1-May 31, 2020, by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.* During this period, 42 states and territories issued mandatory stay-at-home orders. When counties subject to mandatory state- and territory-issued stay-at-home orders were stratified along rural-urban categories, movement decreased significantly relative to the preorder baseline in all strata. Mandatory stay-at-home orders can help reduce activities associated with the spread of COVID-19, including population movement and close person-to-person contact outside the household.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Population Dynamics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology