Applying Social Distancing Research to COVID-19 Response


Findings show states who followed stay-at-home orders indeed flattened their curves. Now what?

It has been three-plus months of mandated isolation strategies to combat coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) spread in the US. And now, social barriers have been somewhat lifted, and executive orders have begun to retract.

What happens now to a national population that is less socially distanced remains to be known—and in the meantime, clinicians have a mountain of public health data to scale in gauging the effects of the US’ first attempt at pandemic response in the 21st century.

In an interview with Contagion®, Pinar Karaca-Mandic, PhD, Academic Director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, discussed the utility of impactful clinical data including state-by-state COVID-19 hospitalization rates—particularly when being compared to the respective area’s restricting on activities linked to increased viral spread.

“Our ongoing analyses are now looking at the impact of reopening—as different states open at different times—on hospitalizations,” she explained. “Some of these states are making data available at the sub-state level, which is really important, too.”

Karaca-Mandic expressed interest in also breaking down how differing regions—and even ages, demographics, and ethnicities—have fared in their mortality rates and hospitalization statuses.

Regardless of the development of those findings, someone outcomes have already made themselves apparent in her and her colleagues’ initial public health research.

“From a clinician point of view: hospitals and the virus’ impact on them have really exposed our healthcare system and how reliant we are on the hospital systems,” Karaca-Mandic said.

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