Social Distancing in a Pandemic

 Average distance travelled by people in the NYC area on 2020-03-22

What anonymized geolocation data can tell us about the effectiveness of social distancing

The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The number of new confirmed cases and deaths from coronavirus continues to grow exponentially in many regions of the world. Across the globe, nations are enacting extraordinary policies to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. In several countries, notably China, South Korea, and Singapore, these policies have been extremely effective in reducing the growth rate of the virus.  

In the US, social distancing has been encouraged and implemented with school closures and strict “stay-in-place” policies. The intention of social distancing policies is to reduce the speed at which the virus spreads by reducing interpersonal contact. By reducing the immediate burden on healthcare systems, social distancing is intended to save lives.

With respect to social distancing policy: what is the effect of social distancing on the spread of coronavirus? Second, how well are people practicing social distancing? Using epidemiological models and high-precision mobility data, we aim to understand how policies are affecting people's behavior and if those changes are impacting the spread of coronavirus.

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