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Data: Michigan residents ardent social distancers in April

Wayne, Oakland, Macomb counties all score very high in following social distancing guidelines

Social distancing index on April 24, 2020 -- from researchers at the University of Maryland.
Social distancing index on April 24, 2020 -- from researchers at the University of Maryland. (University of Maryland)

DETROIT – Research out of the University of Maryland shows Michigan residents remain above average when it comes to staying home and following social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between April 1 and April 24, an average of about 33 percent of United States residents were staying home. In Michigan, an average 38 percent of residents were staying home during that time period. “Staying home” means no trips more than one mile away from home, according to the researchers at the University of Maryland.

They say they used “privacy-protected data” from mobile devices, government agencies, health care systems, and other sources, and are studying the “multifaceted impact of COVID-19 on our mobility, health, economy, and society” to come up with the “COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform."

The researchers put together a “social distancing index,” which they define as an integer from 0~100 that represents the extent residents and visitors are practicing social distancing. “Zero” indicates no social distancing is observed in the community, while “100” indicates all residents are staying at home and no visitors are entering the county.

“It is computed by this equation: social distancing index = 0.8*[% staying home + 0.01*(100 - %staying home)*(0.1*% reduction of all trips compared to pre-COVID-19 benchmark + 0.2*% reduction of work trips + 0.4*% reduction of non-work trips + 0.3*% reduction of travel distance)] + 0.2*% reduction of out-of-county trips,” according to researchers.

By this method, Michigan has received a social distancing index of 63 between April 1 and April 24. On April 5, Michiganders peaked at a social distancing index of 74 with 44 percent of residents staying home. The nation overall has a social distancing index of 51.

Furthermore, Wayne County has received a social distancing index of 70, Oakland County 74, and Macomb County 71. These southeastern Michigan counties, which are the most populous in the state, have some of the highest social distancing indexes nationwide. All three counties peaked on April 5 with social distancing indexes of 81.

New York County, in New York, had the highest social distancing index of 84 between April 1 and April 24.

Michigan’s stay-at-home order was issued March 23 and remains in effect through May 15, although some restrictions have been lifted as of this past Friday.

As of Sunday, April 26, Michigan had 37,778 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 3,315 deaths attributed to the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The state is reporting 8,342 recoveries from COVID-19.


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