Evaluating the effectiveness of social distancing interventions against COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2 has infected over 140,000 people as of March 14, 2020. We use a mathematical model to investigate the effectiveness of social distancing interventions lasting six weeks in a middle-sized city in the US. We explore four social distancing strategies by reducing the contacts of adults over 60 years old, adults over 60 years old and children, all adults (25, 75 or 95% compliance), and everyone in the population. Our results suggest that social distancing interventions can avert cases by 20% and hospitalizations and deaths by 90% even with modest compliance within adults as long as the intervention is kept in place, but the epidemic is set to rebound once the intervention is lifted. Our models suggest that social distancing interventions will buy crucial time but need to occur in conjunction with testing and contact tracing of all suspected cases to mitigate transmission of SARS-CoV-2.