State-Level Stay-at-Home Orders and Objectively Measured Movement in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Social distancing has been one of the primary interventions used to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic. Although statewide stay-at-home orders in the United States received a large degree of media and political attention, relatively little peer-reviewed research has examined the impacts of such orders on social distancing behaviors.


This study used daily GPS-derived movement from 2858 counties in the United States from March 1 to May 7, 2020, to test the degree to which changes in state-level stay-at-home orders were associated with movement outside the home.


From early March to early April, people in counties with state-level stay-at-home orders decreased their movement significantly more than counties without state-level stay-at-home orders; 3.1% more people stayed within 1 mile of home, and 1.6% fewer vehicle miles were driven per day. From early April to early May, people in counties within states that ended their stay-at-home orders increased their movement significantly more than counties in states whose stay-at-home orders remained in place; 1.2% fewer people remained within 1 mile of home, and 6.2% more vehicle miles were driven per day. The magnitude of changes associated with state-level stay-at-home orders was many times smaller than the total changes in movement across all counties over the same periods.


Stay-at-home orders were associated with greater social distancing but accounted for only part of this behavioral change. Research on behavior change would be useful to determine additional interventions that could support social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bourassa, KJ

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 83 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 358 - 362

PubMed ID

  • 33395214

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8238409

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-7796

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3174

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/psy.0000000000000905


  • eng