A Statistical Analysis of COVID-19 and Government Protection Measures in the U.S.

April, 2021


This Heritage Foundation Special Report conducts a statistical analysis of COVID-19 data. The report begins by examining Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and analyzing the spread and mortality of COVID-19 throughout 2020, identifying specific facets of the population at most risk. The authors then conduct an analysis of the geographic spread of COVID-19, finding that the disease has largely been concentrated in varying hotspots throughout the course of the year. Subsequently, the authors conduct an analysis of Google mobility data to understand the public’s response to COVID-19 before and after the virus had been declared a pandemic. Lastly, the authors conduct a survival analysis examining the effect of behavioral responses to COVID-19 alongside government policies. The authors’ work provides insights to policymakers to continue to combat COVID-19 as well as to prepare for future potential public health crises.

COVID-19 has been a crisis unparalleled by any other public health catastrophe in modern times. Shortly after being declared a global pandemic in March, the federal government and state governors throughout the country issued a variety of directives intended to quell the spread of the virus.1 As of March 5, 2021, having infected over 115 million people globally and claimed the lives of 2.5 million, it is imperative for lawmakers to understand how to more effectively combat the disease in the coming months, as well as better prepare for other potential crises that may come our way. 2 Fortunately, although there is still room for improvement, a plethora of data exist that can help public officials combat COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics. This Special Report provides a statistical analysis of some of this data. In particular, we examine the spread of the disease throughout the country, the factors impacting mortality rates, behavioral responses across all 50 states, and the efficacy of the policies instituted to curb the spread of the virus. This analysis is based on data that is available and is not intended to establish causation in a medical sense. Regardless, our goal is to help elucidate how the disease has proliferated and how effective the mitigation policies instituted have been.

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