COVID-19 study links strict social distancing to much lower
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Using public transportation, visiting a place of worship, or otherwise traveling from the home is associated with a significantly higher likelihood of testing positive with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, while practicing strict social distancing is associated with a markedly lower likelihood, suggests a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Current mitigation strategies for SARS-CoV-2 rely on population-wide adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Monitoring NPI adoption and their association with SARS-CoV-2 infection history can provide key information for public health.

Researchers sampled 1,030 individuals in Maryland to capture socio-demographically and geographically resolved information about NPI adoption, access to SARS-CoV-2 testing, and examine associations with self-reported SARS-CoV-2 positivity.

-- Overall, 92% reported traveling for essential services and 66% visited friends/family.
-- Use of public transport was reported by 18%. In total, 68% reported strict social distancing indoors and 53% strict masking indoors; indoor social distancing was significantly associated with age, and race/ethnicity and income with masking.
-- Overall, 55 participants self-reported ever testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 with strong dose-response relationships between several forms of movement frequency and SARS-CoV-2 positivity.
-- In multivariable analysis, history of SARS-CoV-2 infection was negatively associated with strict social distancing; only public transport use and visiting a place of worship remained significantly associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection after adjusting for strict social distancing and demographics.

Conclusively, These results support public health messaging that strict social distancing during most activities can reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Additional considerations are needed for indoor activities with large numbers of persons (places of worship and public transportation) where even NPIs may not be possible or sufficient.

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