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Study finds that social distancing didn’t lead to a decline in COVID-19 cases

Has social distancing worked?

That is the major question at the center of a local study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester and Cornell University. They looked at COVID-19 cases before, and after the pandemic-prompted social distancing efforts.

“After social distancing, rather than contracting, they just sort of plateaued,” said Aaron Wagner, author on the study. “So we ended up right on the fine line between the increase, and the decrease.”

The idea was that social distancing would lead to a drop in cases. However, the outcome was truly an anomaly, Wagner explained. “It’s so hard to achieve, it almost doesn’t even arise in practice. It’s just something that you study purely mathematically and now we’re living in a mathematical curiosity,” he said. That’s because to not see an increase or decrease, but rather maintenance of a singular line is not typical.

Elaine Hill a professor of public health at the University of Rochester tells RochesterFirst.com that additional refinements to social distancing could help in the future.

They noted that future research may focus on testing, contact tracing, and mask-wearing.



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