The scale of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is reshaping society in many ways — from how we work and buy groceries to the level of movement we are becoming accustomed to. With most states in various stages of reopening their economies, where people are going and how they are spending their time outside has changed significantly.
24/7 Tempo analyzed population mobility data from Google to determine how the geographic movement of people has changed in every state.
In the five weeks from May 8 through June 12, during which most states had already reopened to some extent, Americans were staying at home on average 12.1% more than during Google’s baseline period. The baseline period is what Google determined was a typical amount of travel for a region over the five weeks between Jan 3 and Feb 6, 2020, a time before social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders were issued.
In our review, we included mobility data in several categories, including recreation and retail mobility (restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters); grocery and pharmacy mobility; parks mobility (public parks and beaches); and transit stations mobility (subways, busses, and train stations).
The changes in movement vary greatly from state to state. The restrictiveness of each state’s reopening plan and stay-at-home rules appears to play a role in how people’s movement has changed — these are every state’s latest rules for reopening and social distancing.
The biggest change across the country has been in using public transportation. There was a 36.0% decline between the May 8 to June 12 period from the Jan. 3 and Feb. 6 period in people using subways, buses, and train stations. This is to be expected as mostly people are being strongly encouraged to avoid public transit as much as possible, even in places where they are allowed to return to the office.
The public transit use trend was negative in all but four states — Idaho, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming (the latter three never issued stay-at-home orders).
In states with the biggest increases in visits to public parks, public parks were allowed to remain open. For example, in Wisconsin, where gyms were closed, parks mobility increased by 155.9%, the second highest increase in the country. State residents were encouraged to use parks and exercise outdoors. In contrast, Hawaii, the state with the largest decline in park visits — 39.8% between May 8 and June 12 — had state parks, historical sites, and recreation areas closed until June 5 (some even later).
As of June 17, the number of recorded cases of COVID-19 in the United States is nearly 2.2 million. Although the acceleration of the coronavirus’ spread in the U.S. has slowed, some states and major cities are reporting a second wave of new coronavirus cases after reopening their economies — these are the cities where the coronavirus is spreading the fastest right now.