LSU publishes paper tracking COVID-19 trends in six hard-hit states

Posted at 1:07 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 14:07:49-05

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU researchers have applied computational models to investigate COVID-19 infection rates in relation to social distancing measures in six states and calculates the change in the infection rate before and after social distance measures were imposed last spring.

According to a release from LSU, the analyses by the researchers shows a drop in infection rates following public policy measures such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

Currently, there are more than 10 million confirmed cases and more than 240,000 casualties attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S.

The paper is titled Effect of mitigation measures on the spreading of COVID-19 in hard-hit states in the U.S., and was recently published in PLOS ONE.

“We investigate the change in the infection rate due to mitigation efforts and project death and infection counts through September 2020 for some of the most heavily impacted states: New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Louisiana,” said co-author Juana Moreno, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Center for Computation & Technology associate professor, in the release.

Understanding the effects of mitigation efforts based on local data is important, since data extrapolated from other areas may not be reliable, the release states. As states and countries have implemented different degrees of social distancing measures, the effects on controlling the pandemic simply cannot be translated between regions.

With the current mitigation efforts, five of those six states with the exception of Illinois, have reduced their base reproduction number to a value less than one, stopping the exponential growth of the pandemic, the release states.

“The infection rate is an important indicator of the evolution of an epidemic. If it is larger than one, the number of infections is exponentially increasing,” said Nicholas Walker, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy alumnus and current postdoctoral fellow, in the release. “We found that the infection rate is substantially suppressed by social distancing measures. Almost all states had the infection rate dropped below one by the end of the April.”

The researchers say they are currently working on the effects of reopening and how the reopening policies in different states have affected the number of fatalities.

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