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Pitt Researcher: Wolf Administration's Pandemic Restrictions Saved 'Many, Many Thousands Of Lives'

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A Pitt researcher says he's confident that our state's social distancing measures saved thousands of lives.

It's complex science, but the team of researchers say this much is simple: when social distancing ramped up, cases and deaths decreased. When we relaxed our social distancing measures, we saw a spike.

Pitt researcher Mark Roberts doesn't do politics. But he does work with a very complex model he says measures "various different mitigation strategies" and how they made a "dent" in the spread of the virus.

Measuring the impacts of closing and reopening schools, offices, restaurants and stores, Roberts and his team came to a conclusion.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that the social distancing that was put in place in Pennsylvania saved many, many thousands of lives," he said.

Roberts' research even came up Thursday when a team of doctors from across the state hosted a Zoom call defending the governor's actions, which a federal judge had just ruled unconstitutional.

"As physicians, we're concerned that blind unquestioning loyalty to President Trump by elected officials in Harrisburg is getting in the way of good public health policies," said Dr. Max Cooper, an emergency physician with Committee to Protect Medicare.

The doctors decided to speak out because of the complaint recently filed against Governor Wolf, calling it an "attack" and saying that attack "puts us all at risk." The doctors describe the past week as "political games."

"Physicians have a responsibility to speak out when harm is being done, and it is being done right now in Pennsylvania," said Cooper.

Republican leaders argue more harm happens when the dreams of small business owners crumble, and students can't learn in the classroom.

Roberts said his model will soon include economic impacts.

"We want that to be so you can balance off clinical outcomes and health outcomes with economic outcomes. I'm not saying economic outcomes are not real, of course, they're real," he said.

The research team said this is just the beginning. Next, the CDC asked if the team could look into how effective a future vaccine will need to be to make a difference and stop this pandemic.

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