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Effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain COVID-19: a case study of the 2020 spring pandemic wave in New York City.

Abstract

As COVID-19 continues to pose significant public health threats, quantifying the effectiveness of different public health interventions is crucial to inform intervention strategies. Using detailed epidemiological and mobility data available for New York City and comprehensive modelling accounting for under-detection, we reconstruct the COVID-19 transmission dynamics therein during the 2020 spring pandemic wave and estimate the effectiveness of two major non-pharmaceutical interventions-lockdown-like measures that reduce contact rates and universal masking. Lockdown-like measures were associated with greater than 50% transmission reduction for all age groups. Universal masking was associated with an approximately 7% transmission reduction overall and up to 20% reduction for 65+ year olds during the first month of implementation. This result suggests that face covering can substantially reduce transmission when lockdown-like measures are lifted but by itself may be insufficient to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Overall, findings support the need to implement multiple interventions simultaneously to effectively mitigate COVID-19 spread before the majority of population can be protected through mass-vaccination.

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