Despite advice from the U.S. government amid the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of Americans are still traveling. To curb the spread of infection, citizens have been told to keep traveling to a minimum. Of particular note are all the college students going down to Florida for Spring Break, understandably inspiring angry posts online about their reckless behavior. In a heat map that uses location data from cellphones across the country, it's now possible to see just how many people are still traveling across the country.
In data collected by location technology company X-Mode and presented by geospatial data visualization platform Tectonix, a large concentration of people went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida during spring break and went home shortly after. A number of students at colleges across Florida have already tested positive for the coronavirus, indicating that Spring Break did nothing to help flatten the curve.
When the parties all stopped, people were seen traveling all across the East coast of the country. With it, these people could have brought more cases of the virus with them.
X-Mode has explained, via Daily Dot, that the identity of the cellphone owners is not attached to the data. As X-Mode claims, "data is aggregated at the advertising ID level and associated to the device and not a physical person. ... We never collect, handle, or store personally identifiable information (PII), such as your name, phone number, email, date of birth, or gender."
Worryingly, similar data taken from New York City cellphones after governor Andrew Cuomo urged people to stay at home shows people still traveling. Cellphones from the New York area were collected and tracked, and after Cuomo's announcement, phones could be seen moving across the country and even abroad.
Data taken from residents in Rome and Seattle showed there was a dramatic drop in "normal" social patterns for the former, but not as significant a decline for the latter.