Extra People stayed house for Thanksgiving this yr in contrast with final yr — however by comparatively small margins.
An NPR evaluation of cell phone location information confirmed that 42% of People with smartphones remained house, up from 36% final yr.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention repeatedly urged individuals to keep away from vacation journey due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of the warnings, 13% of People nonetheless traveled a major distance, the info confirmed, though that quantity was down from 17% final yr.
Ali Mokdad, from the College of Washington, mentioned that ideally, extra individuals would have stayed house given the excessive case charges. “This stage of journey will sadly result in an increase in circumstances,” mentioned Mokdad, who’s the chief technique officer for Inhabitants Well being.
Knowledge, offered to NPR by SafeGraph, are based mostly on monitoring the places of about 18 million cell phones throughout america. NPR analyzed the anonymized information to find out the proportion of people that stayed at their “house” location for Thanksgiving in addition to the proportion who traveled 31 miles or extra.
Thanksgiving week is often one of many busiest journey intervals of the yr, however 2020 was anticipated to finish an 11-year pattern of journey development going again to the 2008-09 Nice Recession. Automotive journey had been anticipated to lower by at the least 10%, whereas accounting for the next total proportion of journey, as fewer individuals had been anticipated to fly, in accordance with AAA.
In truth, air journey this yr was lower than half of what it was for a similar vacation interval in 2019, in accordance with the Transportation Safety Administration.
Regardless of the lower, the variety of air passengers hovered at round 1 million per day for a majority of the week main as much as Thanksgiving, the best it has been since mid-March, when the pandemic started to ramp up within the U.S. Air visitors has been steadily growing the previous few months, even because the nation recorded a few of its highest new day by day coronavirus case counts. Within the week main as much as Thanksgiving Day alone, the U.S. noticed about 1 million new circumstances.
TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein famous there had been no points with passenger quantity on Thanksgiving Day. To account for extra vacationers through the journey interval, the TSA “opened further checkpoint lanes to assist guarantee low wait instances and permit for social distancing.”
SafeGraph’s metrics can not seize what individuals did once they left house or what security measures they took to mitigate their threat of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. SafeGraph’s information additionally can not account for whether or not those that left house went to homes inside their social bubble.
When you had been one of many individuals who traveled for Thanksgiving, it is not too late to cut back the chance concerned. Quarantining, sporting a masks close to others, limiting interactions outdoors the home and getting examined if any signs develop can all cut back the chance of spreading the virus.
“The easiest way to forestall additional unfold of the illness is to remain house, keep away from gatherings, and put on masks by means of the vacation season,” Mokdad mentioned. “It is a tough time for everybody, however we’ve got to do our greatest to guard each other.”
SafeGraph’s information are anonymized, that means information present total tendencies, not information from particular person cell gadgets. SafeGraph determines an individual’s house location based mostly on the place the particular person’s machine was primarily situated in a single day through the earlier six weeks. Even when individuals traveled the week earlier than Thanksgiving, they might be recorded as being outdoors their house on Thanksgiving Day. SafeGraph is considered one of a number of firms which have offered information to researchers through the coronavirus disaster. The info from SafeGraph, which says it tracks solely customers who’ve “opted in” by way of cell apps, have been cited by quite a few companies and media retailers through the pandemic, together with the CDC, The Washington Publish and The Wall Road Journal.
Sean McMinn contributed to this report.