Cellphone tracking data reveals social distancing trends in Mid-South

Watch: Cellphone tracking data reveals social distancing trends in Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennesseans continue to travel, and their movements are similar to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to cellphone tracking data.

This same data is one of the reasons why Governor Bill Lee issued a statewide stay at home order last week.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Governor Lee requires Tennesseans to stay at home

Content Continues Below

FOX13 talked with a company tracking this data and mapping it out.

When the pandemic started, technology startup Unacast created a social distancing map, and graded how well states are reducing travel. We first told you last week, the Mid-South was getting D’s for social distancing. FOX13 examined how we got there and whether those scores have changed.

Data shows the Mid-South is struggling to stay at home and limit unnecessary travel.

Thomas Walle, Unacast CEO and co-founder said, “We work with a lot of researchers at universities to figure out what are those levels we need to see change in order for this pandemic to stabilize and to decline.”

Walle said there’s been some improvement but Shelby County isn’t doing as well as other parts of the state.

For example, travel to non-essential businesses has decreased by almost 60 percent in Shelby County but people are still traveling far distances, so it’s been ranked a C minus.

In comparison, Williamson County slashed travel in those areas by almost 70 percent and has an A minus.

“Given that states and counties are approaching this in so many different ways, we hope this can also be a tool so state and counties can learn from each other in terms of how they are approaching this pandemic crisis,” said Walle.

Walle said they’ve also noticed a correlation between the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and localized movement.

“If the pandemic is close to home, you have a natural tendency to make the right precautions,” he said.

Because there can be multiple waves of a pandemic, Walle said they plan to continue to track these numbers.

“And see how the number of cases either stabilizing, increasing or decreasing and see how that relates to the mobility patterns of the local communities,” he said.

Walle said the firm will also track what recovery looks like, for example what patterns will we see to determine when things could get back to normal.

For the latest on coronavirus, stream FOX13 News on FOX13 Memphis Now – it’s free on your Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV as well as your FOX13 News App.