Story at a glance
- States have already begun lifting stay-at-home orders and relaxing social distancing measures.
- Officials in charge of these decisions must weigh the public health benefits of these measures against potential economic losses.
- A Penn University model simulates different policy responses to the current situation.
State governors are in a tough position as they consider whether or not to continue social distancing restrictions or reopen their economies. Some have already lifted stay-at-home orders, but many others remain under lockdown.
With each state acting independently, it’s difficult to know how these decisions will affect the United States as a whole. But a new model from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania simulates the health and economic effects of different policy responses.
The interactive tool allows users to compare the outcomes of multiple scenarios, both in terms of official policy decisions and individual behavior. The baseline assumes each state will maintain the restrictions as of April 30 and individuals will continue current social distancing practices.
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The simulator uses data from multiple sources, including the American Community Survey, the New York Times's coronaviruses cases data and the Johns Hopkins's COVID-19 map. Estimates are projected for up to two months out and updated about once a week.
If states stick to their stay at home orders, the model estimates 2,257,123 COVID-19 cases and 116,523 COVID-19 deaths by the end of June, with a loss of 18.6 million jobs and 11.67 percent change in year-over-year GDP. On the other end of the spectrum, if all states fully drop all restrictions, the model predicts 8,026,007 cases and 349,812 deaths by the end of June, with just half a million jobs lost but a 10.1 percent loss in year-over-year GDP.
These are the predictions from the model as of May 4:
Cumulative Net Jobs (millions), change since May 1
Year-Over-Year GDP (% change)
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