Frightening cellphone 'heat map' shows coronavirus' potential spread as spring break revelers went home

CANCUN, MEXICO - MARCH 14: Guests attend Victoria's Secret PINK Nation Hosts Spring Break Bash on March 14, 2017 in Cancun, Mexico. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret Pink)

Heat maps that show cellphone location data in the U.S. paint a disturbing picture of the potential spread of coronavirus as the country grapples with lockdown meaures and tries to stem the virus' tide.

Tectonix, geospatial data visualization platform, working in partnership with location company X-Mode Social, created an alarming map that shows the impact of ignoring social distancing restrictions.

Focusing on just one group of spring break revelers on part of one beach in mid-March when they left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it quickly becomes obvious that the thousands of people who were at the beach ended up all over the country -- in the Midwest, the Northeast and other parts of the South.

Unfortunately, similar scenarios likely played out across Florida beaches earlier this month, and may soon be happening in New Orleans thanks to ongoing Mardi Gras celebrations.

Although Florida does not have as many confirmed cases as other hard-hit areas of the United States like New York, it still had 2,900 as of Friday afternoon.

In other countries, such as South Korea and Singapore, a combination of location tracking, video surveillance and credit card data have been used to determine the whereabouts of people who test positive for COVID-19 -- as a way to reduce the disease's spread.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has been highly unpredictable so far, and in many ways it has only just begun. The only certainty right now is that there will be a lot of difficult times ahead," wrote Joseph Green on X-Mode's blog.

"X-Mode and Tectonix will continue to provide what insights we can from our real-world data and analytics. We hope others will do what they can to shine a light on the truth and keep the world safe," he added.

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