Studies: Stay-at-Home Orders Prevented Millions of COVID-19 Infections

Photo Courtesy: Brent Rutemiller

Shutdown orders that have brought sports and other aspects of normal life to a halt have prevented some 60 million COVID-19 infections in the United States and 285 million in China, studies revealed Monday.

The two reports were published in the journal Nature Monday. One study was undertaken by the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. The other, performed by epidemiologists at Imperial College London, estimated that 3.1 million lives were saved in Europe by stay-at-home orders, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom. Those measures accounted for an 82 percent reduction in the infection rate in Europe.

Both the studies indicate that while aggressive shutdowns have created unprecedented economic change, including widespread disruptions and massive job losses, the were necessary to reduce the deadliness of the coronavirus spread.

They key point of the Berkeley study was that shutdowns of societies short-circuited the feared exponential growth of infections. Where cases had been doubling every day before measures were put in place, the spread was slowed by requiring people to remain at home and shutting businesses.

The Imperial College study finds that only 3 to 4 percent of people in the countries studied have been infected. That emphasizes the size of the population that remains vulnerable and the need for continued vigilance, especially as restrictions begin to loosen. It’s particularly pressing as many countries and areas of the United States seek to return to activities akin to pre-pandemic times, though those involving large gatherings (like sporting events) remain a potential risk.

Of the specific measures assessed, the Berkeley study found that, “banning large gatherings had more of an effect in France and South Korea than in the other countries.” It also found that keeping schools closed “did not show a significant effect,” though researchers found this result not to be conclusive and an area for further study.

The researchers also shied away from making policy suggestions.

“The whole point of this study is to help us understand what we got for this tremendous sacrifice that the country has gone through,” said Solomon Hsiang, the director of the Global Policy Laboratory. “Ultimately, whether or not it was worth it is something society has to decide.”

Swimming Through a Pandemic

The postponements and cancellations wrought by COVID-19 haven’t just affected the Olympics and the ranks of elite swimmers. They’ve trickled down to neighborhood clubs and summer youth leagues, affecting thousands of recreational and competitive swimmers alike. Here is some of our coverage of COVID-19’s effect on the American summer swimming calendar.

Resources for returning to the pool in the COVID-19 era

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    • Buster Smith

      Josh Heynes I read the article and it’s extremely misleading for headline readers. Time and time again the article says that they dont have enough information to draw a conclusion. They also issue a correction at the bottom of the article stating that the title should say ” most asymptomatic…. etc” and not just asymptomatic etc etc. Its really apples to oranges. They said that stay at home orders prevent new infections. You presented data that suggest that asymptomatic are less likely to spread. It’s not even the same topic to compare. Apples to oranges. A proper counter argument would have been that stay at home orders did not stop the spread. I really cant stand the age of headline reading only

    • Josh Heynes

      Buster Smith I was just pointing out how one study says one thing, yet another mentions something completely different, and two or three weeks from now it will be 180 degree different AGAIN!
      People are just tired of hearing it and no one knows what or whom to believe anymore…..that’s the ridiculousness of it all

    • Lyle Campbell

      Buster Smith
      Just listened to Laurie Garrett (expert) and she said that the reporting was inaccurate to what was actually said.

    • Darren Ward

      Josh Heynes you’re comparing two completely different things, that’s why they say different things….hmmm🤔

    • Keith Reichs

      Josh Heynes no. That’s science. New virus. People will keep learning for quite a while. Not ridiculous. Science.

  1. Brian Mezera

    I don’t believe it, they are just trying to cover their ass

  2. Rebecca Lauterbach

    I really am starting to question the unreliable stuff swimming world is sharing

  3. Phil Murray

    Total junk science. This was a model of a model (one that was already shown to be flawed before the paper was even submitted). Why swimming world is even posting this is beyond me

    • Keith Reichs

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu as of today Sweden appears to have about a 30% higher death rate per capita than the US.

    • Keith Reichs so, the death rate in Sweden is .0004 or 0.04% vs the US at .0003 or 0.03%. Right? So, the 30% difference sounds horrible, but in reality…both are remarkable!

    • Keith Reichs

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu Thats in 4 months. Well, really 3 I guess. I guess keep rolling the dice!

    • Keith Reichs well, since my household has already had it along with many others in my community, I am good. 😂

    • Keith Reichs

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu I guess if your people have antibodies, then really you don’t need to worry about the wider community at this point.

    • Keith Reichs not just us, lots of people in my community. It’s kinda nuts considering the test is only 66% accurately finding people with antibodies. My doctors office is running a great deal and sending them off to labs daily.

    • Mike Broadway

      The chief medical officer of Sweden has said last week that he was wrong and he should have closed down. He admits that his method was wrong and that many died that shouldn’t have. Don’t think comparisons to Sweden should be used except to show how not to do it.

    • Mike Broadway the FORMER Chief Medical Officer. The death rate is still lower than the Flu.
      This is about pools & swimming. The risk of exposure is extremely low and the WHO just announced that people that are asymptomatic are not spreading COVID at levels they thought.
      If swimmers do not have a fever there should be an expectation that they are not sick snd can not get others sick.

    • Fred Parsons

      Jan Charles Mittemeyer the article contradicts what i read in swimming universe

  4. Rob Richardson

    Because the sick stayed home – which they should have anyway. Meanwhile the other 96% of us got screwed. And 30M Americans are out of work, kids got behind in school, businesses are failing, $3T taxpayer dollars spent (with more to come I am sure). By the way how many government jobs were lost?

  5. Rick Parker

    Maybe you could focus on something different than agenda-driven statements. Like maybe swimming?

  6. Jennifer Burnett

    Swimming World… please get back to…swimming. Enough of the “other.”

  7. Jason Swaim

    It’s convenient that Imperial College would say that considering they initially told us tens of millions would die. ICL had to come to that conclusion.

  8. Spencer Pinter

    Yet another study by the so-called “experts” that initially grossly overestimated how many people would die from COVID-19, which created the panic and mass hysteria that caused so-called “leaders” to foolishly shut down entire economies by forcibly locking people in their homes and shutting down businesses. Sorry for the cynicism, but fool me once… Now they are trying to cover up their incompetence with studies (propaganda) by those so-called “experts” in an attempt to justify their actions? We could all see this coming from a mile away… 🤓🤓🤓

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