This study found that during February 26–April 1, 2020, as cumulative cases increased and community mitigation policies were implemented, community mobility declined in four U.S. in Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and New Orleans. These temporal trend data provide a preliminary examination of local timing of community mitigation measures and potential impacts on community mobility as well as very early indications of the impact of community mitigation on disease growth.
The authors examined data from February 26–April 1, 2020 from the core metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) of Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans, and from the five boroughs of New York City.
They analyzed the following data for each locality: 1) types and timing of public policies issued to promote community mitigation interventions at the national, state, and local government levels; 2) cumulative number of reported COVID-19 cases; 3) average 3-day percentage change in reported cases; and 4) community mobility, defined as the percentage of personal mobile devices (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, and watches) leaving home, using publicly accessible data from SafeGraph, a data company that aggregates anonymized location data from mobile devices.
They found that in all four metropolitan areas, the percentage of residents leaving home declined as the number of policies issued increased; in all four localities the percentage leaving home was close to 80% on February 26, and by April 1 the percentage leaving home was 42% in New York City, 47% in San Francisco, 52% in Seattle, and 61% in New Orleans.
Emergency declarations (the first policies issued) did not result in a sustained change in mobility; however, declines in mobility occurred after implementation of combinations of policies (such as limits on gatherings or school closures) and after the White House 15 Days to Slow the Spread guidelines were implemented. There were additional declines in mobility following stay-at-home orders.