LEXINGTON, Ky. — As stay-at-home orders are being lifted in some states and extended in others, uncertainty continues to surround the COVID-19 pandemic.
Serious measures have been implemented around the world from cancellations of major events and large gatherings to closures of schools and non-essential businesses.
A study released by the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at the University of Kentucky suggests that social distancing policies are working.
According to the report, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth could have reached a staggering 45,000 by April 25 without any state-imposed measures. For comparison, the current total of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 3,905.
Charles Courtemanche and Aaron Yelowitz wrote the study.
On Thursday, a new report titled, “Strong Social Distancing Measures in the United States Reduced the COVID-19 Growth Rate” was published by Health Affairs.
The study evaluates the impact of four measures taken by state and local governments to slow the spread of COVID-19 across U.S. counties from March 1-April 27 — bans on large social gatherings, public school closures, the shuttering of entertainment-related businesses, and shelter-in-place orders.
The authors found the closing of entertainment businesses — such as restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms — and shelter-in-place orders — such as Governor Andy Beshear’s (D) “Healthy at Home” initiative —resulted in a dramatic reduction in COVID-19 cases.
According to the report, the combination of measures reduced the growth rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases by an amount that grew over time — reaching 9 percentage points after 16 days.
The results show that by April 27, the number of cases would have been 35 times higher without any of the measures, suggesting the U.S. would have reported 35 million (rather than 1 million) COVID-19 cases.
However, the study determined the other two measures — bans on large gatherings and school closures — had a less significant impact.
In conclusion, the authors believe the report sheds light on current re-opening.