Toward the end of the widely read Medium article The Hammer and the Dance, the author talks about "the ROI [return on investment] of social distancing". He provides a chart and a table showing the costs and benefits of various social distancing measures, such as banning gatherings of a certain size, closing restaurants, closing schools, etc. But he notes that these illustrations are fake and "all the data is made up" because "nobody has done enough research about this or put together all these measures in a way that can compare them."
Is that really true? It would seem strange if these social distancing techniques are (to epidemiologists) apparently a go-to tool for epidemic suppression, and yet there is no real research on their effectiveness.
What I'm specifically curious about is if there are data or models that try to measure the effects of individual social distancing measures. This could be either for diseases in general, for specific classes of diseases (e.g., viruses spread via respiratory droplets), or for specific diseases (e.g., influenza). Obviously there won't be info for this specific virus due to its novelty but is there anything that would serve as a reasonable starting point?
I'm curious because most places around the world that have implemented some sort of lockdown appear to have taken a "do it all" approach, activating as many kinds of social distancing as they can. This makes sense as an initial emergency response to hit the brakes as hard as possible. However, as different jurisdictions consider lifting some of these restrictions, I don't see a lot in the press about decisions being made based on their relative efficacy. The discussion I see is mostly about things like increasing testing and monitoring the curve of cases to see when it's okay to lift restrictions, but not about how to decide which restrictions to lift. There are some general statements like "large sports events probably won't come back for a long time" but even those aren't really explained. I haven't seen anything like "banning gatherings of more than 10 people will slow the spread X% relative to banning gatherings of more than 50 people" or "reopening schools will be less damaging than reopening restaurants". Is there anything like that?