As protests sweep nation, research finds social distancing most effective at slowing coronavirus spread

The findings come amid a national urge to congregate, which may lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

A meta-analysis published Monday in The Lancet finds that social distancing is the most effective way to slow the spread of the coronavirus — more so than face coverings and eye protection. However the authors do point out that face masks and other protective gear are important when distancing is not possible.

This research reflects the CDC’s recommendation – “Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis support physical distancing of 1 m or more and provide quantitative estimates for models and contact tracing to inform policy. Optimum use of face masks, respirators, and eye protection in public and health-care settings should be informed by these findings and contextual factors. Robust randomised trials are needed to better inform the evidence for these interventions, but this systematic appraisal of currently best available evidence might inform interim guidance.

Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis