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School Closures Linked to Decreased COVID-19 Incidence, Death

Associations were largest in states with low cumulative incidence of COVID-19 at time of school closure

THURSDAY, July 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- School closures in the United States were temporally associated with decreased COVID-19 incidence and mortality, according to a study published online July 29 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Katherine A. Auger, M.D., from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues examined the association between school closure and its timing with COVID-19 incidence and mortality in a population-based observational study. States were examined based on state-level COVID-19 cumulative incidence per 100,000 residents at the time of closure of schools.

The researchers found that the cumulative incidence of COVID-19 ranged from 0 to 14.75 cases per 100,000 population in states at the time of school closure. There was an association for school closure with a significant decrease in the incidence of COVID-19 and mortality (adjusted relative changes per week, −62 and −58 percent, respectively). In states with a low cumulative incidence of COVID-19 at the time of school closure, these associations were largest. The relative change in incidence was −72 percent versus −49 percent for states with the lowest versus the highest incidence of COVID-19. Closing schools when the cumulative incidence of COVID-19 was in the lowest quartile was associated with 128.7 fewer cases and 1.5 fewer deaths per 100,000 population during 26 days and 16 days, respectively.

"It is unclear how COVID-19 spread would be affected if schools remained open while states enacted other policies to restrict movement," the authors write.

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