Stay-at-Home Lockdowns Made No Difference to Covid Deaths in U.S. States – Study

A new study from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago has analysed the impact of stay-at-home orders on infections and deaths in U.S. states and found they made no difference.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the scientific journal PNAS, found stay-at-home orders (also known as shelter-in-place orders or SIPs) were not associated with lower infections or deaths; furthermore, they were actually associated with a slight increase in infections and deaths, although this was not statistically significant. The results are summarised in the charts below, where dots above the dashed line indicate an increase and dots below a decrease. Red dots are statistically significant results.

The authors suggest that stay-at-home orders have no impact on infections or deaths because they have little to no impact on mobility. Isolating the impact of stay-at-home orders from existing mobility trends, they estimate that the orders themselves contributed a reduction in mobility of just 0.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is largely, they say, because people were already reducing their mobility as much as they were able or willing to.

The mobility data (from mobile phone movement) for U.S. states, with the date of the stay-at-home order shown as a dashed line ands its removal as a dotted line, are shown below.