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Social distancing strategies for curbing the COVID-19 epidemic

By Stephen Kissler, Christine Tedijanto, Marc Lipsitch, Yonatan Grad

Posted 24 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.22.20041079

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is straining healthcare resources worldwide, prompting social distancing measures to reduce transmission intensity. The amount of social distancing needed to curb the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the context of seasonally varying transmission remains unclear. Using a mathematical model, we assessed that one-time interventions will be insufficient to maintain COVID-19 prevalence within the critical care capacity of the United States. Seasonal variation in transmission will facilitate epidemic control during the summer months but could lead to an intense resurgence in the autumn. Intermittent distancing measures can maintain control of the epidemic, but without other interventions, these measures may be necessary into 2022. Increasing critical care capacity could reduce the duration of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic while ensuring that critically ill patients receive appropriate care. SummaryOne-time distancing results in a fall COVID-19 peak. Intermittent efforts require greater hospital capacity and surveillance.

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