New research suggests less COVID-19 cases with earlier social distancing policies

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New research from Columbia University suggests thousands of COVID-19 deaths could’ve been prevented in the United States if officials acted faster with social distancing policies.

Columbia University researchers found that if social distancing started two weeks earlier then 84% of deaths and 82% of cases could have been averted.

Jeffrey Shaman, the research team’s leader, explained what could’ve happened with measures in place one week sooner.

“Our estimates are that a majority of deaths would have been prevented. Just over 50% of them would have been reduced for the total numbers that we see by May 3, if we had acted just a week earlier.”

Jeffrey Shaman, Epidemiologist

The team looked at transmission rates from mid-March through the beginning of May.

They say as states reopen, leaders should respond quickly if they detect a growth in new cases.

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