Are the New Lockdowns Working?
As counties, cities, and states across the US implored residents to stay home amidst the latest COVID-19 surge, many implemented restrictions around the Thanksgiving holiday. When similar measures were taken in March, Kinsa’s data clearly showed a rapid drop in fevers -- demonstrating the effectiveness of the lockdowns. However, the latest round of interventions is showing inconsistent results.
Utah’s trajectory followed expected trends. On November 8, Governor Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency, mandated masks, limited gatherings and placed restrictions on school activities and sports. Immediately, our data showed a drop in the number of people with fevers, and 12 days later we saw a drop in new COVID-19 cases. The Governor’s order expired on November 23, but the decline continued until December 7. Two days later, the Utah Department of Health issued a public health order implementing similar restrictions. Since then, cases continue to decline and fevers remain mostly stable, although we recently predicted cases will start to increase after a large rise in the rate of transmission. This may be related to the governor's decision to lift some restrictions on alcohol sales.
Ohio is a different story. On November 19, the Department of Health issued a state-wide order which included a 10pm curfew along with guidance to wear masks and practice social distancing. However, the expected impact of this order -- a near-immediate drop in feverish illness -- was significantly delayed. The state did not not see a decrease in cases until five days after the order was renewed on Dec 9.
Interventions in California also are not having the expected impact. LA County’s newest round of interventions began November 30th. Its “safer at home” order urged residents to stay home whenever possible, prohibited gatherings and advised people to wear a mask if they went out. Unfortunately, it didn’t work: new fevers and cases increased unabated.
San Diego County’s lockdowns began on December 10. Already in the middle of a steep rise in feverish illness, the measures had no impact. Farther north, San Francisco went on lockdown starting on December 4. This time, the interventions seemed to work. One week later, ILI began to drop.
Scattershot approaches and lower adherence to control measures are possible reasons for these measures’ inconsistent results. Whether it is quarantine fatigue, non-compliance, weak enforcement, or simply poorly designed measures, or a combination -- it is clear that we need better guidelines, better clarity, and better adherence if we are going to flatten the curve once again.
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