COLLEGE PARK, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - There’s no doubt about it, July 4th was a little different this year. Because of the pandemic, health officials urged people to skip the crowded fireworks shows and to hold off on the big family barbecues – but did people actually listen?
The answer is probably not as much as they could have, according to the University of Maryland researchers.
Using anonymized location data from more than 100 million cell phones throughout the country, the researchers have developed an interactive analytics platform that, among other things, tracks social distancing. Maryland Transportation Institute Research Associate Aref Darzi said, overall, the country could’ve done much better.
“The numbers we observed during the holidays was concerning,” Darzi said, “but we are hoping that these numbers are just happening because of the holidays and people will go back to what they were practicing.”
Two stickers are seen inside of the floor of an elevator reminding people to practice social distancing on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
There is, however, some good news for the Greater Washington region. Darzi said D.C. did the best out of the entire country, with Maryland and Virginia not far behind.
“Washington, D.C. was doing the best job comparing to all other states across the nation,” Darzi explained.
It means people like Tim Masters, who told FOX 5, “I did stay socially distant,” were likely telling the truth.
For the record, Darzi said Maryland researchers can only use the data to tell whether people stayed home over the holiday or went out on a trip. They can’t, of course, tell whether people were wearing masks or stayed six feet away from others.