Interdependence and the cost of uncoordinated responses to COVID-19

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


Interdependence and the cost of uncoordinated responses to COVID-19
David Holtz, Michael Zhao, Seth G. Benzell, Cathy Y. Cao, Mohammad Amin Rahimian, Jeremy Yang, Jennifer Allen, Avinash Collis, Alex Moehring, Tara Sowrirajan, Dipayan Ghosh, Yunhao Zhang, Paramveer S. Dhillon, Christos Nicolaides, Dean Eckles, and Sinan Aral
PNAS first published July 30, 2020.
As local governments relax shelter-in-place orders worldwide, policy makers lack evidence on how policies in one region affect mobility and social distancing in other regions and the consequences of uncoordinated regional policies adopted in the presence of such spillovers. Our analysis suggests the contact patterns of people in one region are significantly influenced by the policies and behaviors of people in other, sometimes distant, regions. When just one-third of a state’s social and geographic peer states adopt shelter-in-place policies, it creates a reduction in mobility equal to the state’s own policy decisions, highlighting the need for national coordination. The paper gives governors a roadmap for coordination in the absence of national leadership and applies globally to other regions lacking coordination.