Maria Polyakova, an economist at Stanford University, has studied the effects of the pandemic on the US economy. “Overall,” she says, “we expect a stay at home to mechanically slow down the pandemic as it reduces the number of interactions between people.”
She can’t understand the logic. “Assuming that nightclubs and such are already closed anyway, for example, banning people from walking around the block with their family at night is unlikely to reduce interactions,” said Dr. Polyakova.
In addition, the virus thrives indoors, and groups of infections are common in families and households. So one frightening question is whether forcing people to enter these settings for longer periods slows down the transmission – or speeds it up.
“You can think that way,” said William Hanaj, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health TH Chan, “what proportion of events are transmitted during that time?” And how will the curfew stop them? “
A study recently published in Science analyzed data from China’s Hunan Province at the beginning of the outbreak. The policy hour and locking measures, the researchers concluded, had a paradoxical effect: these restrictions reduced the spread in the community, but increased the risk of infection in households, said Kaiyuan Sun, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health and colleagues.
Dr. Longhini and his colleagues included blockades and evening classes in pandemic models in the United States and concluded that they could be an effective way to reduce transmission.