The Evidence and Tradeoffs for a 'Stay-at-Home' Pandemic Response: A Multidisciplinary Review Examining the Medical, Psychological, Economic and Political Impact of 'Stay-at-Home' Implementation in America
26 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 14, 2020
As of mid-April, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has infected over 2 million people and resulted in nearly 150,000 deaths worldwide. This pandemic is principally a global health emergency, but the disease burden unavoidably impacts social dynamics and economic stability. While many countries have acted with swift and unified responses aimed at curbing exponential spread of the virus, pandemic interventions in the United States have been decentralized, particularly in the implementation of stay-at-home orders. To date, 8 states have not enacted statewide shelter-in-place measures and the country lacks a cohesive plan for lifting established stay-at-home orders. A thorough accounting of the evidence surrounding the impacts of stay-at-home measures can help guide both policy decisions and individuals’ actions. In this essay, we provide a multidisciplinary review of the effects and implementation of stay-at-home orders. We examine the epidemiological, health, economic, political, and legal issues relevant to assessing the costs and benefits of stay-at-home orders. We conclude that the evidence is in favor of implementing stay-at-home orders and maintaining them for the near future. The burden of these measures is less onerous than the health, economic, and political consequences associated with an acute spike in infections that would result from prematurely lifting aggressive public health interventions. To our knowledge, we present the most in-depth review of the evidence necessary to rigorously evaluate the full breadth of societal consequences associated with stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Public Health, Health Policy, Pandemic, Economy, Shelter-in-Place
JEL Classification: I180, I100
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation