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As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, some states and cities have begun enacting curfews to slow the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, backed that strategy on a local level. "It is certainly true that in other countries, curfews—for example, for people in general, curfews of bars closing at certain times, for restaurants closing at certain times—has actually helped," said Fauci. "When you look at what happens as you get late into the evening, people let down their guard, people maybe drink a little bit too much, people get in congregate settings." Read on to hear more about curfews, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Said "I Would Back That" Under Certain Circumstances
As he has in the past, Fauci said that any curfew decisions should be left to local officials. "There are differences depending upon where you are and what the state of the outbreak is in your particular region, your state, your city," explained Fauci.
"You don't like to be very prescriptive, but sometimes when you're dealing with the seriousness of the situation right now, I leave it up to the good judgment of the leaders of your states and your cities to make that," he added. "If they make that decision, I certainly think — if the basis of it is sound — I would back that."
This week, the governor of Ohio ordered a three-week curfew, requiring most residents to be inside their homes by 10 pm starting Thursday. In Massachusetts, residents must stay home between 10 pm and 5 am unless they are running essential errands. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is reportedly considering a similar statewide curfew. In the meantime, Los Angeles County is closing restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses at 10 pm, the same time restaurants, bars and gyms must close in New York and Massachusetts.
Do Curfews Work? Studies are Lacking
Although the intent is to discourage the kind of close contact that can lead to transmission of the virus, there's a lack of scientific evidence that curfews actually work, a piece on Slate.com pointed out Monday. They may even backfire. "Curfews often condense people visiting businesses into a more narrow period of time, which often means more crowding and potential exposures," said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University.
In the meantime, several European countries, including the United Kingdom and France, have gone into harder lockdowns in which non-essential businesses are closed outright and residents can only leave their homes for certain reasons—a situation that most American officials would like to avoid.
Experts advise against small gatherings too
Small gatherings—such as game nights and family dinners—have become a prime driver of coronavirus cases in the US, leading a variety of local and national officials to advise against them this holiday season. This week, the mayor of Philadelphia banned indoor gatherings of any size, and the top health official in Austin, Texas, urged Americans not to socialize with people outside their own households this Thanksgiving. The Health Secretary of California was more blunt: "Please don't travel," he said last Friday.
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.