New York City’s shutdown reduced spread of coronavirus by 70 percent, study finds - The Washington Post
Sep 15, 2020 1 min, 56 secs
Images of a nearly empty Times Square and a cleared-out Grand Central Terminal signaled the stillness of New York City under shutdown orders this spring — orders that led to about a 70 percent reduction in the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a new study.

A forthcoming study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has yet to be peer reviewed, which means other scientists have not had a chance to cast a critical eye on the research.

The city began closing public schools the week of March 15 and imposed stay-at-home orders for everyone except essential workers the following week.

Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it is not surprising that shutdowns would curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But it is critical to also look at the “whole picture,” said Adalja, who was not involved in the study.

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis.

The forthcoming study found that the widespread use of face coverings was linked to a 7 percent reduction in transmission during the first month the mandate was implemented in public spaces.

There is “definitely room for improvement” in mask-wearing, Yang said.

Improving mask-wearing will be key as the city continues to reopen and as more people venture outdoors after months of staying home, Yang said, especially for “reducing the risk of another resurgence of covid for places that were able to get it under control and are now reopening, trying to gain some normalcy after a severe period of the pandemic.”.

Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia and a co-author on the study, said in a statement, “It’s crucial that we find ways to boost consistent and correct mask use in settings where social distancing is not possible.”.

The researchers used city data on case numbers and deaths, as well as mobility data from SafeGraph, a company that aggregates cellphone location information, to simulate the spread of the coronavirus and estimate transmission.

Looking ahead, Yang said that in addition to improved mask-wearing, public health protocols including contact tracing, limiting occupancy in businesses, and testing and isolation will all be needed to simultaneously help curb the risk of a resurgence


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