The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has infected more than 62 million people worldwide. Control responses varied across countries with different outcomes in terms of epidemic size and social disruption. This study presents an age-specific susceptible-exposed-infected-recovery-death model that considers the unique characteristics of COVID-19 to examine the effectiveness of various non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in New York City (NYC). Numerical experiments from our model show that the control policies implemented in NYC reduced the number of infections by 72% [interquartile range (IQR) 53–95] and the number of deceased cases by 76% (IQR 58–96) by the end of 2020. Among all the NPIs, social distancing for the entire population and protection for the elderly in public facilities is the most effective control measure in reducing severe infections and deceased cases. School closure policy may not work as effectively as one might expect in terms of reducing the number of deceased cases. Our simulation results provide novel insights into the city-specific implementation of NPIs with minimal social disruption considering the locations and population characteristics.

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