skip to main content

Title: Interacting regional policies in containing a disease

Regional quarantine policies, in which a portion of a population surrounding infections is locked down, are an important tool to contain disease. However, jurisdictional governments—such as cities, counties, states, and countries—act with minimal coordination across borders. We show that a regional quarantine policy’s effectiveness depends on whether 1) the network of interactions satisfies a growth balance condition, 2) infections have a short delay in detection, and 3) the government has control over and knowledge of the necessary parts of the network (no leakage of behaviors). As these conditions generally fail to be satisfied, especially when interactions cross borders, we show that substantial improvements are possible if governments are outward looking and proactive: triggering quarantines in reaction to neighbors’ infection rates, in some cases even before infections are detected internally. We also show that even a few lax governments—those that wait for nontrivial internal infection rates before quarantining—impose substantial costs on the whole system. Our results illustrate the importance of understanding contagion across policy borders and offer a starting point in designing proactive policies for decentralized jurisdictions.

; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. e2021520118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Most models of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States do not consider geographic variation and spatial interaction. In this research, we developed a travel-network-based susceptible-exposed-infectious-removed (SEIR) mathematical compartmental model system that characterizes infections by state and incorporates inflows and outflows of interstate travelers. Modeling reveals that curbing interstate travel when the disease is already widespread will make little difference. Meanwhile, increased testing capacity (facilitating early identification of infected people and quick isolation) and strict social-distancing and self-quarantine rules are most effective in abating the outbreak. The modeling has also produced state-specific information. For example, for New York and Michigan, isolation of persons exposed to the virus needs to be imposed within 2 days to prevent a broad outbreak, whereas for other states this period can be 3.6 days. This model could be used to determine resources needed before safely lifting state policies on social distancing.

  2. We propose a modified population-based susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) compartmental model for a retrospective study of the COVID-19 transmission dynamics in India during the first wave. We extend the conventional SEIR methodology to account for the complexities of COVID-19 infection, its multiple symptoms, and transmission pathways. In particular, we consider a time-dependent transmission rate to account for governmental controls (e.g., national lockdown) and individual behavioral factors (e.g., social distancing, mask-wearing, personal hygiene, and self-quarantine). An essential feature of COVID-19 that is different from other infections is the significant contribution of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases to the transmission cycle. A Bayesian method is used to calibrate the proposed SEIR model using publicly available data (daily new tested positive, death, and recovery cases) from several Indian states. The uncertainty of the parameters is naturally expressed as the posterior probability distribution. The calibrated model is used to estimate undetected cases and study different initial intervention policies, screening rates, and public behavior factors, that can potentially strike a balance between disease control and the humanitarian crisis caused by a sudden strict lockdown.
  3. Ndeffo Mbah, Martial L (Ed.)
    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic led to closure of nearly all K-12 schools in the United States of America in March 2020. Although reopening K-12 schools for in-person schooling is desirable for many reasons, officials understand that risk reduction strategies and detection of cases are imperative in creating a safe return to school. Furthermore, consequences of reclosing recently opened schools are substantial and impact teachers, parents, and ultimately educational experiences in children. To address competing interests in meeting educational needs with public safety, we compare the impact of physical separation through school cohorts on SARS-CoV-2 infections against policies acting at the level of individual contacts within classrooms. Using an age-stratified Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Removed model, we explore influences of reduced class density, transmission mitigation, and viral detection on cumulative prevalence. We consider several scenarios over a 6-month period including (1) multiple rotating cohorts in which students cycle through in-person instruction on a weekly basis, (2) parallel cohorts with in-person and remote learning tracks, (3) the impact of a hypothetical testing program with ideal and imperfect detection, and (4) varying levels of aggregate transmission reduction. Our mathematical model predicts that reducing the number of contacts through cohorts produces a larger effect than diminishing transmission rates permore »contact. Specifically, the latter approach requires dramatic reduction in transmission rates in order to achieve a comparable effect in minimizing infections over time. Further, our model indicates that surveillance programs using less sensitive tests may be adequate in monitoring infections within a school community by both keeping infections low and allowing for a longer period of instruction. Lastly, we underscore the importance of factoring infection prevalence in deciding when a local outbreak of infection is serious enough to require reverting to remote learning.« less
  4. Abstract Background

    Infections with nontyphoidalSalmonellacause an estimated 19,336 hospitalizations each year in the United States. Sources of infection can vary by state and include animal and plant-based foods, as well as environmental reservoirs. Several studies have recognized the importance of increased ambient temperature and precipitation in the spread and persistence ofSalmonellain soil and food. However, the impact of extreme weather events onSalmonellainfection rates among the most prevalent serovars, has not been fully evaluated across distinct U.S. regions.


    To address this knowledge gap, we obtainedSalmonellacase data forS.Enteriditis,S.Typhimurium,S.Newport, andS.Javiana (2004-2014; n = 32,951) from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), and weather data from the National Climatic Data Center (1960-2014). Extreme heat and precipitation events for the study period (2004-2014) were identified using location and calendar day specific 95thpercentile thresholds derived using a 30-year baseline (1960-1989). Negative binomial generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the association between exposure to extreme events and salmonellosis rates.


    We observed that extreme heat exposure was associated with increased rates of infection withS.Newport in Maryland (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR): 1.07, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.01, 1.14), and Tennessee (IRR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.09), both FoodNet sites with high densities of animal feeding operations (e.g., broilermore »chickens and cattle). Extreme precipitation events were also associated with increased rates ofS.Javiana infections, by 22% in Connecticut (IRR: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.35) and by 5% in Georgia (IRR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.08), respectively. In addition, there was an 11% (IRR: 1.11, 95% CI: 1.04-1.18) increased rate ofS. Newport infections in Maryland associated with extreme precipitation events.


    Overall, our study suggests a stronger association between extreme precipitation events, compared to extreme heat, and salmonellosis across multiple U.S. regions. In addition, the rates of infection withSalmonellaserovars that persist in environmental or plant-based reservoirs, such asS.Javiana andS.Newport, appear to be of particular significance regarding increased heat and rainfall events.

    « less
  5. Mobility restrictions have been a primary intervention for controlling the spread of COVID-19, but they also place a significant economic burden on individuals and businesses. To balance these competing demands, policymakers need analytical tools to assess the costs and benefits of different mobility reduction measures. In this paper, we present our work motivated by our interactions with the Virginia Department of Health on a decision-support tool that utilizes large-scale data and epidemiological modeling to quantify the impact of changes in mobility on infection rates. Our model captures the spread of COVID-19 by using a fine-grained, dynamic mobility network that encodes the hourly movements of people from neighborhoods to individual places, with over 3 billion hourly edges. By perturbing the mobility network, we can simulate a wide variety of reopening plans and forecast their impact in terms of new infections and the loss in visits per sector. To deploy this model in practice, we built a robust computational infrastructure to support running millions of model realizations, and we worked with policymakers to develop an interactive dashboard that communicates our model's predictions for thousands of potential policies.