Public interest in preventative measures of COVID-19 associated with timely issuance of state-wide Stay-at-Home orders
Greiner, Benjamin et al.
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Introduction: One method of monitoring public preparedness is through measuring public interest in preventive measures. The objective of this study was to analyze public interest in COVID-19 preventive measures and to identify variables associated with timely Stay-At-Home (SAH) orders issued by Governors. Methods: State-level search volume was collected from Google Trends. Average preventative measure interest was calculated for the queries “Hand Sanitizer”, “Hand Washing”, “Social Distancing” and “COVID Testing”. We then calculated the delay in state-wide SAH orders from March 1st, 2020 to the date of issuance and by-state presidential voting percentage. Bivariate correlations were computed to assess the relationship between interest in preventive measures and SAH order delay. Results: The correlation between average preventative measure interest and length of time before a SAH order was placed was -0.47. Average preventive measure interest was also inversely related to voting for Republican presidential nominee in the 2016 election (R= -0.75); the latter of which was positively associated with longer delays in SAH orders (R= 0.48). Conclusions: States with greater public interest in COVID-19 preventive measures were inversely related to Governor issuance of timely SAH orders. Increasing public interest in preventive measures may slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by improving preparedness.