Social distancing may have prevented almost 5 million U.S. coronavirus deaths

The U.S. would have seen 4.8 million more confirmed coronavirus cases — and 60 million more total infections — without social distancing, according to a new study published in Nature.

Why it matters: When evaluating the cost of social distancing to the U.S. economy and society writ large, this is the number of cases to measure it against — not the actual number, which reflects the health benefits of the measures.

The big picture: The study estimated the impact of social distancing measures in six countries: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France and the U.S.

Among these countries, the measures prevented or delayed 62 million confirmed cases, or about 530 million total infections, the authors found.
Between the lines: How quickly a country implemented social distance measures likely had a strong effect on health outcomes, the authors write, and countries' responses had impacts of varying degrees.

For example, the authors estimated that, in the absence of large-scale social distancing measures, there would have been 465 times more confirmed cases in China, 17 times more cases in Italy and 14 times more cases in the U.S.
The U.S. still has the highest number of documented coronavirus cases in the world.

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