Background: On March 15, 2020 Puerto Rico implemented non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including a mandatory curfew, as part of a state of emergency declaration to mitigate the community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The strict enforcement of this curfew was extended through May 25, with a gradual relaxation beginning on May 1. This report summarizes an assessment of these early mitigation measures on the progression of COVID-19 in the island. Methods and Findings: From March 15 to May 15, 2020, 41,748 results of molecular (RT-PCR) tests were reported to the Puerto Rico Department of Health. Of these, 1,866 (4.5%) were positive, corresponding to 1,219 individuals with COVID-19 included in the study. We derived the epidemic growth rates (r) and the corresponding reproductive numbers (R) from the epidemic curve of these 1,219 individuals with laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 using their date of test collection as a proxy for symptoms onset. We then compared the observed cases with the R-based epidemic model projections had the mitigation measures not been implemented. Computations were conducted in the R packages forecast, incidence and projections. The number of daily RT-PCR-confirmed cases peaked on March 30 (84 cases), showing a weekly cyclical trend, with lower counts on weekends and a decreasing secular trend since March 30. The initial exponential growth rate (r) was 17.0% (95% CI: 8.4%, 25.6%), corresponding to a doubling of cases every 4.1 days, and to a reproduction number (Ro) of 1.89 (95% CI: 1.41, 2.39). After March 30, the r value reverted to an exponential decay rate (negative) of -3.6% (95% CI: -5.7%, -1.4%), corresponding to a halving of cases every 19.4 days and to an Ro of 0.90 (95% CI: 0.84, 0.97). Had the initial growth rate been maintained, a total of 18,699 (96%CI: 4,113, 87,438) COVID-19 cases would have occurred by April 30 compared with 1,119 observed. Conclusions: Our findings are consistent with very effective implementation of early non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) as mitigation measures in Puerto Rico. These results serve as a baseline to assess the impact of the transition from mitigation to containment stages in Puerto Rico.
Collection : COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv