Nonpharmaceutical Interventions in Georgia: Public Health Implications

South Med J. 2023 May;116(5):383-389. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001552.


Objectives: As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread, many states implemented nonpharmaceutical interventions in the absence of effective therapies with varying degrees of success. Our aim was to evaluate restrictions comparing two regions of Georgia and their impact on outcomes as measured by confirmed illness and deaths.

Methods: Using The New York Times COVID-19 incidence data and mandate information from various web sites, we examined trends in cases and deaths using joinpoint analysis at the region and county level before and after the implementation of a mandate.

Results: We found that rates of cases and deaths showed the greatest decrease in acceleration after the simultaneous implementation of a statewide shelter-in-place for vulnerable populations combined with social distancing for businesses and limiting gatherings to <10 people. County-level shelters-in-place, business closures, limits on gatherings to <10, and mask mandates showed significant case rate decreases after a county implemented them. School closures had no consistent effect on either outcome.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that protecting vulnerable populations, implementing social distancing, and mandating masks may be effective countermeasures to containment while mitigating the economic and psychosocial effects of strict shelters-in-place and business closures. In addition, states should consider allowing local municipalities the flexibility to enact nonpharmaceutical interventions that are more or less restrictive than the state-level mandates under some conditions in which the data indicate it is necessary to protect communities from disease or undue economic burden.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Physical Distancing
  • Public Health