Google data shows how social distancing has changed the habits of North Carolina residents

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new report from Google shows how people throughout the world have responded to various orders and guidance from government leaders about quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Political leaders and media outlets have all strongly suggested social distancing as the surefire way to combat the novel coronavirus, a highly contagious virus that's impacted many facets of life for even the average citizen. The hustle and bustle of everyday life has drastically reduced as many Americans have cut down on going places, affecting everything from air travel to trips to the store.

RELATED | LIVE UPDATES: The latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic in NC

Google compiled reports for countries around the world to analyze how communities are moving since public health officials began warning the public about COVID-19. The data monitors how behavior has changed since many states, counties and towns have changed policies in light of the pandemic.

Google used data from its "Location History" feature to put together the report's finding. Google said insights in the reports were created with aggregated and anonymized sets of data from users who manually turned on the setting in Google apps on their mobile devices.

Google did not specify how many users in each county or state contributed to the report.

The complete reports are available by country here. Here's what Google found in North Carolina and some counties in the ABC11 viewing area:

North Carolina mobility data:
  • Travel to restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theaters is down 40 percent compared to the baseline figure since Feb. 16.
  • Travel to grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers markets, specialty food shops, drug stores and pharmacies is down 15 percent.
  • Travel to national parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas and public gardens is up 13 percent.
  • Travel to public transport hubs such as subway, bus and train stations is down 51 percent.
  • Travel to workplaces is down 35 percent.
  • Travel to residential locations is up 10 percent.

Wake County mobility data:
  • Transit stations down 74 percent
  • Workplaces down 43 percent
  • Retail & Recreation areas down 51 percent
  • Grocery & Pharmacy areas down 31 percent
  • Parks down 1 percent
  • Residential up 13 percent

Durham County mobility data:
  • Transit stations down 36 percent
  • Workplaces down 43 percent
  • Retail & Recreation areas down 50 percent
  • Grocery & Pharmacy areas down 28 percent
  • Parks down 7 percent
  • Residential up 13 percent

Cumberland County mobility data:
  • Transit stations down 32 percent
  • Workplaces down 34 percent
  • Retail & Recreation areas down 31 percent
  • Grocery & Pharmacy areas down 11 percent
  • Parks up 18 percent
  • Residential up 8 percent

Google said the baseline number by which the percent change is measured is the median value for the corresponding day of the week during the 5-week period from Jan 3-Feb 6, 2020, before many stay-at-home measures were put in place in the United States.

Some rural counties didn't have complete, 'statistically significant' levels of data.

ABC11's I-Team used a similar method--tracing cell phone patterns--to see how much everyone was staying at home or not.

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