The highest danger from COVID-19 comes from the reopening of restaurants, gyms and hotels, according to a study using mobile phone data from 98 million people as a model for infection risk, Bloomberg reported.
The study came from researchers at Stanford University and Northwestern University. With data collected between March and May from cities around the country to map peoples’ movements, researchers looked at where people went, how long they stayed and how many others were there, along with where they were visiting from.
Bloomberg reported that the data was then combined with statistics from the number of COVID-19 cases and how the virus spreads in order to create hypothetical models.
The study, which was published Tuesday (Nov. 10), found there is limited evidence that lockdowns would be necessary to help curb the spread, instead favoring masks, social distancing and reduced capacity. For instance, in Chicago, capping occupancy levels at 20 percent cut down on predicted infections by 80 percent. The highest occupancy only occurred in peak hours, so restaurants only lost around 42 percent of customers overall, according to Bloomberg.
Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, which wasn’t a part of the aforementioned study, told Bloomberg the data “shows us where there is vulnerability.” He said the next step should be to concentrate on the areas that light up.
However, the study also predicted inequalities in infection rates based on income, with Bloomberg reporting that lower-income populations were more likely to get the virus because they were more likely to visit crowded, smaller areas.
COVID-19 infection rates are currently spiking globally as was projected all year for the colder months, but many people are perfectly content to stay in lockdown mode — for now, anyway. PYMNTS reported that people have gone past the point where they think the pandemic will end soon, with a September survey finding that the majority think there’s at least another 11 months to go.