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With the rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and in the absence of evidence-informed guidance, state and local policymakers have had to put policies in place quickly, with little evidence to support their choices, and with little consideration as to the potentially serious trade-offs that such policies could introduce. Thus, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive and systematic assessment of potential public health interventions to address COVID-19 and when to relax them. This document describes the interdisciplinary and multisectoral approach that RAND researchers used to develop the COVID-19 Decision Support Tool, which is designed to fill that need.

Access the tool

A report containing only the details on the estimation of the economic costs of social distancing policies outlined here is available at www.rand.org/t/RRA173-1.

Access the tool

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Methods Used to Build the Tool

  • Chapter Three

    Epidemiological Model

  • Chapter Four

    Economic Model

  • Chapter Five

    Qualitative Assessment of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions

  • Chapter Six

    How to Use the COVID-19 Decision Support Tool

  • Chapter Seven

    Next Steps

  • Appendix A

    Percentage Income Losses

  • Appendix B

    Bibliography for Nonpharmaceutical Intervention Description and Assessment

Research conducted by

Funding for this independent research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was jointly conducted by the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program in RAND Social and Economic Well-Being and the Access and Delivery Program in RAND Health Care.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Tool series. RAND tools may include models, databases, calculators, computer code, GIS mapping tools, practitioner guidelines, web applications, and various toolkits. All RAND tools undergo rigorous peer review to ensure both high data standards and appropriate methodology in keeping with RAND's commitment to quality and objectivity.

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The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.