In simulations, colleges can prevent up to 96% of COVID-19 infections with common measures

Preventing-COVID-Campus

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined 24 combinations of four common preventative strategies: social distancing, mask wearing, testing and isolation, and calculated their effectiveness in students, faculty and surrounding community (including staff) and used a computer simulation model known as Clinical and Economic Analysis of COVID-19 interventions, or CEACOV, that simulated a semester of a mid-sized college (5,000 students and 1,000 faculty).

The study concluded:
  • About three of every four students and nearly one in six faculty would become infected over the semester in the absence of all mitigation efforts
  • Minimal social distancing policies would only reduce infections by 16% in students
  • While closing the campus and switching to online-only education would reduce infections by 63% among students, it would be less effective than opening the campus and implementing a mask-wearing and social distancing policy, which would reduce infections by 87% among students
  • Two common measures: social distancing and mandatory masks prevents 87% of campus COVID-19 infections
  • Adding routine lab-based testing to the mix would prevent 92% to 96% of infections

At a Glance

16 %
Social distancing policies reduce infections by 16% in students
87 %
Implementing a mask-wearing and social distancing policy can reduce infections by 87%
75 %
About three of every four students will be infected over the semester in the absence of mitigation efforts