Quarantines Increasingly Ignored as Some States Partially Reopen

Quarantines Increasingly Ignored as Some States Partially Reopen

Quarantines Increasingly Ignored as Some States Partially Reopen

Major drops in the number of people staying home are being observed by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD)—a trend that may reflect decisions by some states to partially reopen their economies despite the continuing threat posed by COVID-19.

Between April 23 and May 1, more than a dozen states announced partial reopenings. During the same period, the Social Distancing Index (SDI)—a metric that quantifies compliance with guidelines intended to contain the spread of COVID-19—dropped by 12 points nationwide.

The SDI is tracked by researchers at UMD’s Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) in partnership with Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab). Daily updates are published on an interactive data analytics platform maintained by the research team.

“Our data suggests that the partial reopening orders in some states have prompted a sharp increase in mobility behavior and decreasing social distancing across the nation,” said MTI director Lei Zhang, who is the director of MTI and leading the project.

All ten states with the sharpest reductions in social distancing are states that have announced partial reopenings. Of the ten states with the lowest reductions, nine are still under lockdown.

In several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana, the SDI dropped by more than 20 points, percentage of people staying home decreased by more than 30% between April 23 and May 1. A similar drop was recorded in Michigan, which has seen widely-publicized protests against COVID-19 restrictions. On April 24, Governor Gretchen Wilmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order, but allowed some businesses to reopen.

Travel distances and the number of non-work-related trips have both increased by 20% across states that had partially reopened as of May 1 and by 14% in states still under lockdown.

“What’s particularly interesting is that the large increases in the number of trips is not attributable to the reopened businesses alone,” Zhang said. “People are responding to partial reopening by making more trips across the board.”

Warmer weather, protests, partial reopening announcements, economic realities, and growing frustration with the restrictions are all contributing to the behavior.

The interactive data analytics platform is one of several projects undertaken at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering in response to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, or to speak with the platform research team, email data-covid@umd.edu

More COVID-19 Response Projects

Related Articles:
Maryland Engineers Rise Up to Grand Challenges of 2020
The Binding of the Virus
Maryland Engineers Receive Coronavirus Research Seed Fund Awards
Incubator Hatches COVID-19 Solutions
Shelter-in-place Compliance Remains Low, UMD Research Finds
Answering the Call Amid COVID-19
COVID-19: Aerospace Engineers Contribute Needed Supplies
In Race With Virus, Researchers Speed Development of Medical Equipment
Protection Collections Abound for Local Health Care Workers
Public health planners: Free resources for emergency health clinics

May 6, 2020

Prev   Next
“Our data suggests that the partial reopening orders have prompted a sharp drop in compliance with restrictions and guidelines." --MTI Director Lei Zhang, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Current Headlines

Ph.D. Student Receives Best Paper Award at VFS 80th Annual Forum

Maryland Engineering: Top 10 Among Public Graduate Programs, Six Years Running

Registration Open for UMD/NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem Symposium

Teaching Students Specialized Skills for Success

Boyce Highlights Promise of Soft Composites

Maryland Engineering to Highlight Educational Advances at the 2024 ASEE Annual Conference

UMD Roundtable Weighs Lessons Learned From Key Bridge Collapse

Innovating in Engineering Education: Join Us at the 2024 ASEE Annual Conference

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar