School closures, the loss of public spaces, and having to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic have caused major disruptions in people’s social lives all over the world.
Researchers suggest a reduction in fatal coronavirus cases can be achieved without the need for so much social disruption. They discuss the impacts of the school closures of various types of facilities in the journal Chaos, from AIP Publishing. After running thousands of simulations of the coronavirus pandemic response in New York City with variations in social distancing behavior at home, in schools, at public facilities, and in the workplace while considering differences in interactions between different age groups, the results were stunning. The researchers found school closures are not largely beneficial in preventing serious cases of COVID-19. Less surprisingly, social distancing in public places, particularly among elderly populations, is the most important.
“School only represents a small proportion of social contact. … It is more likely that people get exposure to viruses in public facilities, like restaurants and shopping malls,” said Qingpeng Zhang, one of the authors. “Since we focus here on the severe infections and deceased cases, closing schools contributes little if the elderly citizens are not protected in public facilities and other places.”
Release date: 09 February 2021
Source: American Institute of Physics