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New York company creates social distancing report card, gives Travis County an 'A-'

The "scoreboard" uses cell phone data to track their owners' movement.

AUSTIN, Texas — As county and city leaders continue emphasizing social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, a New York company called Unacast is tracking the movement of cell phones nationally and grading individual communities.

It's called a "social distancing scoreboard," and in the past few days, grades for some the biggest Central Texas counties have improved. As of Tuesday, Travis County has an "A-."

That means that based on estimates by Unacast analysts, there has been more than a 70% decrease in non-essential visits to places like grocery stores or pharmacies.

That's up from over the weekend, when the county had a "C" on Sunday.

Both Hays and Williamson Counties have a "B-."

That means there has been a 65 to 70% decrease in average mobility, so the score shows that people are staying home more.

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University of Texas researchers have said that even if we reduce social contacts by 90%, we could still have more than 3,000 in the hospital because of COVID-19 and up to 260 people could die from it in a five-county region here in Central Texas.

That's why social distancing and staying at home is so important, unless you must absolutely go out, according to officials.

So how does this company get the data?

They obtain it in aggregate from games, shopping apps and utility apps people have on their phones.

Usually, it is information they analyze for marketing firms or advertisers, but they are now using for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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