Is social distancing working?

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Cities across the US are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, city and state governments have put "social distancing" procedures in place, encouraging residents to stay at home whenever possible.

San Francisco was the first major US city to issue a "shelter in place" order, and New York City mandated that 100% of residents working in non-essential industries must work from home. Yet, COVID-19 confirmed cases continue to skyrocket and now exceed 330,000 as of April 5th, including over 120,000 in New York State alone.

The policies are in place, but are people *actually* staying at home? According to CityMapper, the answer is yes.

CityMapper, an app with over 20 million users that helps people plan trips by car, mass transit and walking (similar to GoogleMaps), has released data that show a steep decline in trips planned. This is evident in cities across the country including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia.

As of today, residents in San Francisco were planning and taking 6% as many trips as usual - a decrease of 94%! - while residents in New York City were also planning and taking 6% as many trips as usual. Both of these figures were down considerably from the prior week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York corroborated this analysis, sharing that the New York's commuter rail lines have seen an 85% decrease in traffic.

Washington DC, Boston and Chicago saw 5%, 6% and 7% of usual transit activity, respectively, while Philadelphia and Los Angeles were higher at 10% and 9% of residents planning trips, respectively.

While transit is down considerably, astronomical growth in confirmed cases suggest that more social distancing protocols or more strict adherence to existing policies may be required to slow down COVID-19.

About the data

This data shows year-over-year trips planned by users with the CityMapper app. Source: CityMapper Mobility Index

Written by

Tomas Hoyos

Tomas is the co-founder and CEO of Voro, the healthcare social network where people share doctor recommendations with their friends and neighbors. Tomas loves a good book and mostly writes about current events in healthcare and tips to stay healthy. Prior to co-founding Voro, Tomas was a healthcare investor and investment banker. Tomas is a graduate of Harvard University where he majored in Government.