Shelter-in-place orders reduced covid-19 mortality and reduced the rate of growth in hospitalizations


Most states enacted shelter-in-place orders when mitigating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Emerging evidence indicates that these orders have reduced COVID-19 cases. Using data starting at different dates in March and going through May 15, 2020, we examined the effects of shelter-in-place orders on daily growth rates of both COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, using event study models. We found that shelter-in-place orders reduced both the daily mortality growth rate nearly three weeks after their enactment and the daily growth rate of hospitalizations two weeks after their enactment. After forty-two days from enactment, the daily mortality growth rate declined by up to 6.1 percentage points. Projections suggest that as many as 250,000–370,000 deaths were possibly averted by May 15 in the forty-two states plus Washington, D.C., that had statewide shelter-in-place orders. The daily hospitalization growth rate examined in nineteen states with shelter-in-place orders and three states without them that had data on hospitalizations declined by up to 8.4 percentage points after forty-two days. This evidence suggests that shelter-in-place orders have been effective in reducing the daily growth rates of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.

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Health Affairs