Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recently made a disturbing discovery: For the first time since states began implementing stay-at-home orders in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are staying home less.
The nationwide shift during the week of April 13 was relatively slight. However, any loss of momentum, particularly when stay-in-place orders remain in effect across most of the country, has some public health experts worried about “quarantine fatigue.” Any increase in travel, they say, is premature when staying home remains the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus until widespread testing and contact tracing become available.
“We saw something we hoped wasn’t happening, but it’s there,” said Lei Zhang, lead researcher and director of the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland. “It seems collectively we’re getting a little tired. It looks like people are loosening up on their own to travel more.”
Zhang said he anticipates the number of people staying home will continue to drop as some states begin allowing businesses, beaches and other public facilities to reopen. That process began last week in South Carolina and Georgia.
Public health experts say any data showing widespread public resolve or cooperation beginning to wane is noteworthy. Because this is the first U.S. pandemic in 100 years, they don’t know how long people are willing to tolerate cabin fever for the greater good.
They say they’re not surprised, however, that a slide occurred in a week that saw the first highly publicized challenges to such orders by protesters and President Donald Trump, who tweeted his support to “liberate” states from shutdowns. The White House also released federal guidelines that week for states seeking to reopen their economies. And a growing number of governors, including in Texas, Minnesota and Vermont, set dates for when they planned to gradually lift restrictions.
An estimated 40,000 people flocked to beaches in Orange County, California amid a nasty heatwave.
Tens of thousands flocked to Orange County beaches today as this heat wave settles over SoCal. Officials say they're expecting even larger crowds over the weekend t.co/TiOpcKPlSv pic.twitter.com/xLBnu3qW4s
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) April 25, 2020
Tens of thousands flock to Orange County beaches as heat wave lingers over SoCal
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Tens of thousands flocked to Orange County beaches that are still open during the coronavirus pandemic as the hot weather settled over the region.
Surfers and crowds of people were seen along the Huntington Beach coast as the region is experiencing a heat wave that is expected to last through the weekend. Officials urged individuals to continue practicing physical distancing when outside, but that didn’t seem to be the case Friday afternoon. Many beach goers were seen with less than six feet between them and many weren’t wearing face coverings.