Coloradans have done a better job of staying at home than most Americans as they’ve faced increasing travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new reports that mine cell phone location data to illustrate how quickly daily life has changed.
Google on Friday released mobility reports for Colorado and other states that compare trips to several kinds of places in recent weeks with baseline figures from before the pandemic set in. The tech giant, which said it protected individual mobile phone users’ privacy, tapped the same aggregate location data it long has used to show how busy restaurants, bars, stores and other common destinations typically are at different times of the day.
The upshot: Coloradans were venturing out to shop, eat and seek entertainment much less often — 51% less in the “retail and recreation” category, by Google’s measure, which factors in visits and length of stay in data captured through Sunday. Nationally, such activity declined 47%.
But the state’s residents were far more likely than the rest of the country to visit parks and other outdoor places, especially on weekdays. Google’s measure shows an overall 12% decline compared to the baseline for the parks category, with some days actually showing increases around 40% compared to normal for that day of the week. Nationally, park visits were down 19%, Google says.
Restrictions were put in place starting in mid-March by state and local officials, culminating last week in a stay-at-home order for all Coloradans that exempts essential employers and certain activities, including outdoor exercise.
Gov. Jared Polis said the earlier orders limiting restaurants and bars to carryout service and reducing head counts in nonessential workplaces have slowed growth in Colorado’s case counts for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. But he and other officials have recently called on Coloradans to avoid travel to the mountains for recreation, a problem that has continued.
Another report, published Wednesday by The New York Times, showed Colorado’s urban areas were among those where travel had decreased the most by last week. That analysis used mobile phone location data provided by Cuebiq, a data intelligence firm.
The Times’ analysis also showed that Colorado and much of the West were among the first places where the average distance of travel dropped below 2 miles, in mid-March.
Google’s Colorado report shows wide variance in its travel and activity measures county by county, though those with smaller populations had insufficient data for some metrics.
One interesting comparison is between Denver and El Paso counties, the state’s two most populated. While Denver was ahead of the state in ordering the closure of dine-in service at restaurants, and then in issuing a stay-at-home order, El Paso County — home to Colorado Springs — waited until Polis issued statewide directives.
Google’s measures show Denver residents, on average, have stayed home more often, have traveled much less, and have been less likely to visit stores, restaurants and other spots compared with El Paso County. Earlier this week, Polis called for better compliance with the stay-at-home order by that county’s residents.
Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on coronavirus in Colorado.
Source: Read Full Article