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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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