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Stay-at-Home Orders Tied to Slowing of COVID-19 Hospitalizations

12 days after stay-at-home orders started, hospitalization growth began to deviate from projected numbers

FRIDAY, June 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Statewide stay-at-home orders are associated with decreases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to a research letter recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Soumya Sen, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis, and colleagues assessed the association between statewide executive stay-at-home orders and hospitalization trends. Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations from each state's department of health website were collected on a daily basis. Four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia) were included with at least seven consecutive days of cumulative hospitalization data for COVID-19 before the stay-at-home order date and at least 17 days following the order date.

The researchers found that the median effective date of a stay-at-home order closely fit and favored an exponential function over a linear fit (R2 = 0.973 versus 0.695 in Colorado; 0.965 versus 0.865 in Minnesota; 0.98 versus 0.803 in Ohio; 0.994 versus 0.775 in Virginia). Observed hospitalization growth rates deviated from projected exponential growth rates, with slower growth in all four states after the median effective date. Outside of the 95 percent prediction bands of the projected exponential growth curve, observed hospitalizations consistently fell. Five days after the median effective date in Minnesota, the cumulative projected hospitalizations were 988 versus 361 actual hospitalizations. In Virginia, projected hospitalizations five days after the median effective date were 2,335 projected hospitalizations versus 1,048 actual hospitalizations.

"The observation that hospitalizations decreased after the 12-day median incubation period following the issuance of the stay-at-home orders suggests that these orders are an important contributing factor to slowing down hospitalization rates," Sen said in a statement.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device and health care industries.

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