School Closure vs. Restaurant Closure: Which Is Most Effective?

I’ve been asking for a while about the effect of specific COVID-19 countermeasures, and a new study in Health Affairs finally delivers. This is the first study of this type that I’ve seen, and it should naturally be taken as tentative until we see what other teams come up with. But with that said, here are the results:

The error bars in this chart are large, but the point estimates suggest that school closures and bans on large gatherings have no effect on reducing the spread of the virus. In both cases the effect is statistically insignificant, and in the case of school closures the effect is most likely to increase the spread of the virus.

Conversely, closing restaurants and issuing shelter-in-place orders both had statistically significant effects and both slowed the spread of the virus considerably.

There are, of course, several things that the study didn’t test. The most important is probably mask wearing. “Future work,” the authors say, “should also examine the impacts of other social distancing policies such as closing public parks and beaches, the requirement to wear masks in public, restrictions on visitors in nursing homes, state announcements of first cases or fatalities, and federal government actions such as prohibiting international travel.”

I’ll caution once again not to take these results as definitive yet, but further research along these lines is critical. If follow-up studies confirm the results on school closures, for example, it means we can send kids back to school in September. That would be a huge benefit for everyone.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate