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Shelter-in-Place Orders Cut Growth Rates of COVID-19 Deaths

TUESDAY, July 14, 2020 -- Shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs) reduced the daily growth rates of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, according to a report published online July 9 in Health Affairs.

Wei Lyu, and George L. Wehby, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, used event study models to examine the effects of SIPOs in daily growth rates of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations based on data starting at different dates from March through May 15, 2020.

The researchers found that SIPOs reduced the daily mortality growth rate and the daily growth rate of hospitalizations after nearly three weeks and after two weeks after enactment, respectively. The daily mortality growth rate decreased by up to 6.1 percentage points after 42 days from enactment. In the 42 states plus the District of Columbia with statewide SIPOs, projections suggest that as many as 250,000 to 370,000 deaths were possibly averted by May 15. After 42 days, the daily hospitalization growth rate examined in 19 states with SIPOs and three states without SIPOs declined by up to 8.4 percentage points.

"These estimates indicate that SIPOs played a key role in flattening the curves not only for cases, but also for deaths and hospitalizations, and eased pressure on hospitals from avoided COVID-19 admissions," the authors write. "Of course, SIPOs also generate a large economic toll and are not sustainable over extensive periods."

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Posted: July 2020

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