A new study using computer modeling suggests that eviction bans authorized during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced infection rates.

The research indicates that eviction bans not only protected those who would have lost their housing but also entire communities from the spread of infections.

With widespread job loss in the US during the pandemic, many state and local governments temporarily halted evictions last spring. Just as these protections were about to expire in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a national eviction ban.

The order is only extended a few months at a time, however, and remains under constant challenge in the court system, including debates about whether such measures control infection transmission.

With their new work, the researchers aimed to study if eviction bans help control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, says Alison Hill, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

To document the potential impact, Hill and Michael Levy of the University of Pennsylvania, teamed up with experts in housing policy from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Hill and Levy specialize in using mathematical models to study how infections spread.

In their new report in Nature Communications, the researchers used simulations to predict the number of additional SARS-CoV-2 infections in major US cities if evictions had been allowed to occur during the fall of last year.

They estimated, for example, that in a city of approximately 1 million residents with evictions occurring at a heightened rate of 1% of households per month, an additional 4% of the population could become infected, which corresponds to about 40,000 more cases. Even with a much lower eviction rate of 0.25% per month, similar to the pre-pandemic level in cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Tucson, Arizona, estimates were for about 5,000 additional cases.

Read the full article about eviction bans by Vanessa Wasta at Futurity.