New cellphone data shows North Carolinians getting restless during Stay-at-Home order

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, April 30, 2020
New cell phone data shows fewer North Carolinians staying home
Thursday marks one month since the stay-at-home order went into effect in North Carolina and ABC 11 obtained fresh data showing whether or not people are staying home.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Thursday marks one month since the stay-at-home order went into effect in North Carolina and ABC11 obtained fresh data showing whether or not people are staying home.

According to the anonymous cellphone location data analyzed by Safegraph-- the percentage of people staying home started to peak across the state in mid-April at 37.7 percent. By April 24, that number went down two percentage points with 35.7 percent of people staying home the entire day.

PREVIOUS STORY: NC cellphone data shows counties get better at social distancing in days after Stay-at-Home order

The decreases align with the time President Donald Trump began talking a lot more about reopening the country and Governor Roy Cooper was about to lay out a phased plan to reopen North Carolina's economy.

These statistics do not show a huge decrease in the amount of people staying home. But, counted up over days and weeks and experts fear more potential for the spread of COVID-19.

On the deserted campus of William Peace University, Wednesday night, a small group of stir-crazy 20-somethings were getting in a workout on the beach volleyball court, desperate for anything outside of the house.

"I would say no," was the answer from all four young men when asked if they were taking the stay-at-home order as seriously now as they were a month ago.

"I'm definitely tired of it. I'm ready to go out and go to bars," said Phillip Hinton.

"I'm trying to go to Dogwood (Bar) and get a drink -- talk to some ladies," Lewis Evans said.

While that may not be an option right now, more of us seem to be leaving home in recent days.

According to the data analyzed by Safegraph, Wake County hit its peak in people staying home all day on April 17 at 45.4 percent of residents. The number starts to slowly decline over the next seven days -- down to 43.1 percent by last Friday.

It's the same trend in Durham County which hit a peak of 43.6 percent on April 17 --ticking down 2 percent by April 24.

There was a slightly lower decrease in Orange County. 41.8 percent of residents stayed home all day in mid-April. It was down to 40.3 percent last week.

And in Cumberland County, a peak of 39 percent is now down 37.4.

ABC11 asked Dr. Betsey Tilson, the state health director, whether the numbers suggest more North Carolinians are moving too fast to abandon the message that we're safer at home.

"I haven't seen that specific data you're referring to, but we are continuing to stress that people need to stay home," Tilson said.

Back on the sand at Peace, the guys say they've heard the health warnings and are being safe by staying "mostly" at home and limiting the size of any gatherings. But they are fighting off a growing impatience with stay-at-home. And it's mixed with a dose of invincibility that comes when you're in your 20s.

"I mean if we do get sick, it's not gonna be anything serious," Hinton said. "We're in great health. We can get through it quick. I have no problems."

Of course, there are numerous examples of younger Americans fighting serious bouts with COVID-19. But, the main point came from Dr. Tilson: if we all stay home we continue to flatten the curve of new cases. And the sooner we all can go back out.