Are the coronavirus lockdowns working?

By Kent R. Kroeger (May 5, 2020)

Virtual model of coronavirus (Graphic by Rayyar)

Have Statewide Lockdowns Helped?

It is not too early to start assessing the effectiveness of statewide “stay-at-home” orders and economic lockdowns, as whether will end them in a same and timely fashion will depend on some quantitative level of knowledge about their utility.

Can we compare COVID-19 case and death numbers between states?

The definitional comparability problem between states in measuring COVID-19 cases and deaths is highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in its own tabulations and research on the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and its associated disease (COVID-19). In the CDC’s latest report on COVID-19, here is the language they use to explain why their numbers may be different from state-reported numbers:

Graphic by Kent R. Kroeger
  • Aged 60 to 69 = 3.6%
  • Aged 50 to 59 = 1.3%
  • Aged 40 to 49 = 0.4%
  • Aged 0 to 39 = 0.2%

After controlling for population density (and other factors), what can we say about statewide lockdowns to control COVID-19?

My answer is not a satisfying one: it is not clear the states with lockdowns are doing better containing the effects of the coronavirus than states without full lockdowns.

A Path Model for COVID-19 Cases and Deaths for U.S. States & D.C.

Using the JHU-CSSE data at the state-level through 3 May (see, I’m no better than those lazy journalists), I estimated a linear path model for explaining state-level COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths.

  • The cumulative number of tests conducted by the state per 1 million people (natural log transformed) (Variable name: LN_T)
  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 1M people (natural log transformed) (Variable name: LN_C)
  • Whether a state imposed travel restrictions between and/or within their state (1 = Yes, 0 = No) (Variable name: TRA)
  • Whether a state imposed a statewide (“stay-at-home”) lockdown policy (1 = Yes, 0 = No) (Variable name: STA)
  • Governor’s political party (1 = Democrat, 0 = Republican…not a value judgment on my part) (Variable name: PAR)

Interpretation of Results

Lockdowns versus No Lockdowns

APPENDIX: The Path Model Estimation Output

Model Set-up in JASP

Model Estimation Output

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at:

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