UK-involved research found without steps, COVID-19 would have been 35 times worse


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new study involving University of Kentucky researchers found that without four steps taken by state and local governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the number of cases nationwide would have been 35 times higher.

That means instead of a one million cases, the country would have had 35 million cases between March 1 and April 27, the study found.

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Of the fur steps, shelter in place orders, closing entertainment-related businesses, bans on large social gatherings and closing schools, the study found stay at home and closing entertainment were the most effective with schools and social gatherings playing a lesser role.

Charles Courtemanche and Aaron Yelowitz, both professors and researchers in the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics, co-authored the study which was published online at Health Affairs.

“Closing restaurant dining rooms/bars and/or entertainment centers/gyms led to statistically significant reductions in the growth rate of COVID-19 cases in all time periods after implementation,” the study model found.

“In days 1–5 after implementation, the bundle of restrictions reduced the growth rate of COVID-19 cases by 5.4 percentage points. In days 6–10 after implementation, the growth rate fell by 6.8 percentage points. This reduction grew to 6.8 percentage points after 6–10 days, 8.2 percentage points after 11–15, 9.1 after 16–20, and 12.0 after 21 or more. A conservative interpretation of these results would therefore be that the impact reached 9.1 percentage points after 16–20 days and appeared to remain at least as high after that,” the study found.

“As late as April 6, nearly a month after the earliest interventions, the number of cases would still have been under 1,000,000 even without any restrictions—just 2.4 times the actual number of cases. The explosion in cases without social distancing measures happens later, and by time it is happening, the lagged effects of these measures mean it is too late to stop it,” it added, offering precautions in the numbers throughout.