School Closures Helped, Study Shows

School closures in the US last spring significantly decreased COVID-19 incidence and saved lives, according to a new study in JAMA.  

The research suggests that closures between March and May may have been associated with ~1.37 million fewer cases of COVID-19 over a 26-day period and 40,600 fewer deaths over a 16-day period.

And: States that closed schools earlier (when the state’s cumulative incidence was lower) saw an even stronger benefit.

Other interventions, like handwashing and wearing masks, could have played a part too. “It’s quite possible—and probable—that people changed their behavior because they thought, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s this new virus and it’s so scary they’re closing schools,’” lead author Katherine Auger, associate chair of outcomes at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, told STAT.

The data comes during a heated back-to-school debate, with President Trump pressuring schools to reopen fully and criticizing CDC guidelines—which were then revised last week.

US lawmakers are investigating whether the Trump administration influenced those changes, which drop 6-feet-apart distancing requirements and “suggest that schools consider closing only if there is ‘substantial, uncontrolled transmission’ of the virus, The Washington Post reports.

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