Relaxing State Social Distancing Measures Immediately Increases Virus Spread, MGH Study Finds

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A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital provides more evidence that the coronavirus spreads more when communities relax social distancing measures and reopen economies.

The researchers had previously found that the coronavirus transmission rate went down when states across the country implemented social distancing restrictions, including shutting down schools, offices and restaurants. The transmission rate is the average number of people each person with the virus infects.

But the latest round of the research found the encouraging trend didn't last long.

"Essentially the day after these policies were reversed, the epidemic curve completely reversed — from a strong and steady downward trend in almost every state in the country to an upward trend in almost every state in the country," said Dr. Mark Siedner, a Mass. General infectious disease physician and senior author of the study.

Siedner spoke with WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins.

This segment aired on October 6, 2020.

Headshot of Lisa Mullins

Lisa Mullins Host, All Things Considered
Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.


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Lynn Jolicoeur Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.



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