We study the health, behavioral, and economic effects of one of the most politically controversial policies in recent memory, shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies have claimed that shelter-in-place orders saved thousands of lives, but we reassess these analyses and show that they are not reliable. We find that shelter-in-place orders had no detectable health benefits, only modest effects on behavior, and small but adverse effects on the economy. To be clear, our study should not be interpreted as evidence that social distancing behaviors are not effective. Many people had already changed their behaviors before the introduction of shelter-in-place orders, and shelter-in-place orders appear to have been ineffective precisely because they did not meaningfully alter social distancing behavior.
Their study says their explanation for “why” these Orders had no effect is conjecture – they do not know.
Related: A stunning 38.9% of small businesses in the U.S. are no longer open (select Businesses : Small Businesses Open) due to the actions of public health. Reminder, in spite of all those actions, 600,000 people died.
In my town’s downtown, I estimate about 30% of local businesses were gone. Future historians will not look kindly on the year 2020 and the government/public health response.