Giving Compass' Take:

• Michelle Samuels explains that shows that social distancing orders - especially those related to bars and restaurants - are effective for keeping people at home. 

• Keeping people out of public spaces is essential in slowing the spread of coronavirus. This information is important to keep in mind as states reduce or remove social distancing orders.

• Find out why some people haven't been social distancing

Social distancing (or “physical distancing”) mandates have been the main way that state and city governments are curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But how much do declaring states of emergency, implementing stay-at-home orders, shuttering non-essential businesses, and other policies and guidelines actually keep people from moving around and coming into contact with each other?

“When the COVID-19 pandemic started, it was really a natural fit for our team to start brainstorming ideas about how Google could contribute meaningful insights to help guide the global public health response to the pandemic,” says Gregory Wellenius, a researcher at the Boston University’s School of Public Health who collaborated on the work with Google as part of its COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports project.

Wellenius began a short-term position as a visiting scientist at Google Research in January. Much of his research uses new technologies and data sources to better understand and address the harms of climate change.

The team soon launched the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports and began using the data for research, looking for insights that could be useful to the pandemic response.

The study finds that state-of-emergency declarations resulted in a 10% reduction in time spent away from places of residence. The implementation of one or more physical distancing policies resulted in an additional 25% reduction (and a 33% reduction in visits to retail and recreational locations), and subsequent shelter-in-place mandates led to an additional 29% reduction in the time that people spent out and about.

“The limits on bars and restaurants seems to be the single policy that was associated with the greatest reduction of population mobility,” says Wellenius, director of SPH’s Program on Climate and Health.

Read the full article about social distancing orders by Michelle Samuels at Futurity.