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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|April 2020||Tracking Public and Private Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic: Evidence from State and Local Government Actions|
with Sumedha Gupta, Thuy D. Nguyen, Felipe Lozano Rojas, Byungkyu Lee, Ana Bento, Kosali I. Simon, Coady Wing: w27027
This paper examines the determinants of social distancing during the COVID-19 epidemic. We classify state and local government actions, and we study multiple proxies for social distancing based on data from smart devices. Mobility fell substantially in all states, even ones that have not adopted major distancing mandates. There is little evidence, for example, that stay-at-home mandates induced distancing. In contrast, early and information-focused actions have had bigger effects. Event studies show that first case announcements, emergency declarations, and school closures reduced mobility by 1-5% after 5 days and 7-45% after 20 days. Between March 1 and April 11, average time spent at home grew from 9.1 hours to 13.9 hours. We find, for example, that without state emergency declarations, ...