Breaking News
More () »

Data shows 'major' drop in number of people staying home

Researchers from the University of Maryland say partial reopening orders ‘have promoted a sharp increase in mobility behavior.’

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Editor's note: The video above was published April 29.

As states announce partial reopenings, researchers from the University of Maryland have found "major" drops in the number of people staying home.

According to researchers, there were more than a dozen states that announced partial reopenings between April 23 and May 1. During this time the Social Distancing Index, a metric measuring compliance with guidelines, has dropped by 12 points nationwide. 

The study is being conducted through the Maryland Transportation Institute, which is monitoring location data from mobile devices to identify travel patterns of individuals. 

“Our data suggests that the partial reopening orders in some states have prompted a sharp increase in mobility behavior and decreasing social distancing across the nation,” Lei Zhang, director of the transportation institute, said in a press release.

Credit: Maryland Transportation Institute
This chart provided by the Maryland Transportation Institute shows the changes in the Social Distancing Index by state from Feb. 20 to May 1.

RELATED: Coronavirus model cited by White House now projects 134K US deaths by August

The research shows Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey as the three areas with the highest levels of social distancing. Arkansas, Wyoming and Oklahoma fall at the bottom of the list.  

The ten states with the sharpest reductions in social distancing all have announced partial reopenings.

Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana all experienced a Social Distancing Index drop of more than 20 points. 

Researchers also attribute the increased mobility to warmer weather, protests, economic realities and the growing frustration with the restrictions. 

“What’s particularly interesting is that the large increases in the number of trips is not attributable to the reopened businesses alone,” Zhang said. “People are responding to partial reopening by making more trips across the board.” 

RELATED: Jobless rate spikes to 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression

Credit: AP
A food server wearing a protective face mask waits on customers at the Parkshore Grill restaurant Monday, May 4, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla.