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CDC: Public Policy Measures Important for Social Distancing

Community mobility decreased with policies issued as COVID-19 case counts increased in four areas

TUESDAY, April 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Community mobility in four metropolitan areas decreased with the introduction of public policy measures supporting social distancing, which could help slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to research published in the April 13 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Arielle Lasry, Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues report on the relationship between timing of public policy measures, community mobility (a proxy for social distancing), and temporal trends in reported COVID-19 cases in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, and New York City.

The researchers found that in all four locations, community mobility decreased from Feb. 26 to April 1, 2020, decreasing with each policy issued and as the case counts increased. In all four areas, as the number of policies issued increased, the percentage of residents leaving home decreased; the percentage leaving home was close to 80 percent on Feb. 26, 2020, in all four localities, and decreased to 42, 47, 52, and 61 percent in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and New Orleans, respectively, by April 1, 2020. A sustained change in mobility was not seen with emergency declarations (the first policies issued), but decreases were seen after implementation of combinations of policies.

"This analysis suggests that policies to increase social distancing when case counts are increasing can be an important tool for communities as changes in behavior result in decreased spread of COVID-19," the authors write.

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