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Data shows stay at home trends as public health experts urge compliance with 3 W’s

Data shows stay at home trends as public health experts urge compliance with 3 W’s
Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT
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NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - As cases of the novel coronavirus climbed and orders came down from Governor Roy Cooper as well as local leaders, North Carolinians noticeably changed their behavior when it came to going into work, visiting stores and using public transit.

Trends of how the public reacted to various stages of the pandemic can be seen thanks to data made available by Google through its Community Mobility Report.

Google users who have certain location features enabled on their devices allowed the tech giant to track how long people were spending at home versus their workplace, as well as how often people were visiting grocery stores, pharmacies and parks.

That information was compared to a “baseline” determined by the same user activity in January and February. The deviations, calculated as percent change, can be charted to show how people moved around compared to pre-pandemic patterns.

Statewide, distinct drops in things like retail activity can be seen after Governor Cooper implemented some of the first coronavirus restricitons in mid March.

A precipitous drop off of time spent at the workplace begins at around the sametime, and is relatively unchanged apart from Memorial Day weekend.

Locally, similar trends to the statewide activity can be seen.

The data show that as restrictions were lifted, people started to more frequently visit stores, getting back to the baseline or even exceeding it.

In New Hanover County, parks have seen much higher than baseline visits throughout the last several months.

With this renewed activity out in the community has come a surge in virus cases, explained Lisa Brown from the New Hanover County health department.

“As we continue to move around more, and people interact more, we’re going to see more spread,” she said. “We’re seeing an increase in cases and we’re seeing it growing at a rate that is not a good thing.”

With things going back to “normal” at least in part, Brown said the “Three W’s” of wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart (social distancing) and washing your hands frequently become even more important.

“We just have to think about how we mitigate the risk. So, always being cautious about those three W’s. I always have hand sanitizer on myself. I always have a mask handy. Even if I’m an environment where I think I might not need it, where social distancing is going to be more than adequate and I’m outdoors, it’s still a good idea to have it with me.”

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