How well have curfews worked in other states?

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — When Gov. Roy Cooper announced a statewide curfew as the latest attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, he cited two states — Ohio and Massachusetts — that took similar measures.

But a analysis of the case counts over the past few months in those states found the numbers there continue to climb at a rapid pace — frequently at a similar pace to neighboring states that lack curfews.

North Carolina’s curfew taking effect Friday night requires people to stay home “or the place they will remain for the night” from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — with exceptions for people who are going to and from work — and mandates certain types of businesses close between those hours.

“I think we are at a point where we are taking incremental steps to curb spread where we can, rather than doing one giant draconian measure which is back to what you had in March that said, ‘Everybody just stay home all the time,’” said Jessica Dixon, an infectious disease specialist at WakeMed in Raleigh.

The North Carolina curfew takes effect on a day when the state set records with 7,540 new cases reported — the first time more than 7,000 had been reported in a single day — and the number of hospitalized COVID patients exceeded 2,500 for the first time, climbing to 2,514.

Dixon speculated that the rationale behind the new order is to “curb certain things that we know are contributing to spread.

“This one measure isn’t going to stop the spread of COVID, but if you can stop young people from gathering in large groups in a setting where they are unmasked because they are eating and or drinking, then you have mitigated a certain portion of the spread,” she said.

A similar measure went into effect Nov. 6 in Massachusetts, where an advisory from Gov. Charlie Baker set the curfew at 10 p.m. 

But even factoring in lag of roughly two weeks for the effects of the action to show up in the numbers, the case counts have not slowed. That state averaged 1,447 cases per day in the week before the action took effect. That number rose to 2,623 per day two weeks later and was at 4,554 per day on Dec. 6 — a 214 percent increase in the month after the advisory.

In neighboring Connecticut, cases rose by 166 percent during roughly the same time span, from an average of 988 per day on Nov. 6 to 2,650 on Dec. 7.

Ohio, which put into place its nightly curfew on Nov. 19, saw some improvement for a time — though with so many variables, from the Thanksgiving holiday to colder temperatures keeping people indoors more frequently — it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cause and effect, especially with less time between the start of the order and the present.

That state averaged 7,451 new cases per day when Gov. Mike DeWine’s order went into effect and after the numbers there stayed within a relatively tight range in the weeks that followed, they skyrocketed again over the past week, climbing to 12,143 on Thursday — an increase of 63 percent.

Neighboring Indiana averaged 6,363 daily new cases on Nov. 19 and the average there at first dipped along with Ohio’s before also increasing to 6,900 on Dec. 7 — an increase of just 8 percent.

“This is not a magic bullet or a magic button that turns off the pandemic,” Dixon said. “I wish that I had that. But it is another piece that certainly should help.”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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