UW Economists: Physical Distancing Reduces Deaths During Pandemic
University of Wyoming economists during a study found that physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has "dramatically" reduced mortality rates.
According to the study, announced Wednesday, the reduced mortality rates were not only due to coronavirus infection rates being stemmed. The researchers say that a reduction in air pollution also contributed to fewer deaths. Air pollution is attributable to 4.2 million early deaths each year across the globe, with as many as a quarter-million of those being in the United States.
The research released Wednesday is the latest in a number of coronavirus-related studies carried out by UW economists Assistant Professor Stephen Newbold, Professor David Finnoff, Assistant Professor Linda Thurman, graduate student Madison Ashworth and Professor Jay Shogren.
In previous research, the UW team conducted research showing the potential economic benefits of social distancing due to lives saved. That research showed that the benefits of lives saved outweighed projected damage to the U.S. economy by roughly $5.2 trillion.
"Even with projected declines in U.S. gross domestic product of just under 6 percent to nearly 8 percent as a result of COVID-19 distancing, the benefits of lives saved more than justify the measures," researchers say in Wednesday's news release.
The researchers did not take into account the potential benefits from wearing cloth covering or testing and tracing programs. They also don't take into account the potential side-effects of physical distancing like increased domestic abuse or effects on mental health.
Further, researchers didn't consider the possibility that many people may continue working remotely and the resulting impacts.
Read the full research here.