Preventing COVID-19 Fatalities: State versus Federal Policies
53 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020 Last revised: 15 Dec 2020
Date Written: October 27, 2020
Are COVID-19 fatalities large when a federal government does not enforce containment policies and instead allow states to implement their own policies? We answer this question by developing a stochastic extension of a SIRD epidemiological model for a country composed of multiple states. Our model allows for interstate mobility. We consider three policies: mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and interstate travel bans. We fit our model to daily U.S. state-level COVID-19 death counts and exploit our estimates to produce various policy counterfactuals. While the restrictions imposed by some states inhibited a significant number of virus deaths, we find that more than two-thirds of U.S. COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented by late November 2020 had the federal government enforced federal mandates as early as some of the earliest states did. Our results quantify the benefits of early actions by a federal government for the containment of a pandemic.
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