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Traffic Changes on U.S. Roads During COVID-19 [Mobility Reports]

The coronavirus pandemic caused the largest mobility drop to transit stations and retails stores, both at nearly 50 percent. The areas that saw the biggest increase in mobility were our nation's parks.

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UPDATED: May 27, 2020

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We all know the story by now: the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has swept across the entire world, creating quarantines from Spain to the United States. The graph above shows the number of cases in the United States, and it changes every day. These quarantines and COVID-19 have caused changes in our daily lives from the mundane to the serious. And it has impacted our mobility too.

This relates, in a way, to all of us. For those of us still in quarantine, we listen to and read about all the statistics from the drop in car accidents to the rebates coming from our car insurance companies. If you’re out of quarantine and that experience is now just an unpleasant memory, you’re still likely dealing with the ramifications.

So, what are those traffic changes on U.S. roads during COVID-19?

To answer that question, our researchers studied mobility reports for every U.S. county. Using six main categories (from retail to residential) we compared mobility now to pre-coronavirus traffic.

We also cover how insurance companies are handling this change in mobility. Just like coronavirus has affected the health insurance industry, it has affected the car insurance industry. We go over what steps the insurance companies are taking for their customers during this unprecedented time.

Ultimately, coronavirus lockdowns change the way we drive, from our U.S. driving habits to transport usage. The coronavirus road changes dictate our lives to some extent—where we can go and what we can do. Coronavirus fears change how we approach mobility, what is safe, and what is not. Ready to find out those changes? Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Traffic Change from COVID-19 to Retail Stores and Recreation

Retail stores and recreation: It is a term includes everything from Target superstores to local libraries. And during the coronavirus pandemic, most of these are closed. By logic, traffic changes to these locations should be down. But are they and if so, by how much?

To get an answer to that question, we took a look at Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report to see how much people are traveling to these locations. We compared those results to a baseline from January and February before the quarantines. We repeated the same formula for all six categories of this study.

While there is no strict list that defines a retail store or recreational facility, sites such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, and libraries are all considered retail stores or recreation facilities. Overall, the distance traveled to these locations or the traffic changes on U.S. roads during COVID-19 is down 45 percent.

In fact, every county we have data on shows a decrease in travel distance or mobility. Which counties are the best and worst? Let’s find out.

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Best Counties for Traffic Change to Retail Stores and Recreation

In this category, there isn’t a single county that ranks as the top for reduced mobility. Instead, the designation of the best county is split between three: Mono County (California), Pitkin (Colorado), and Madison (Montana). Each county has reduced mobility of 100 percent to retail stores and recreation facilities.

The counties share some similarities. Most notably, their population sizes are relatively small. Pitkin County is the largest with about 18,000 people. Madison County is the smallest at around 8,000 people. All population statistics in this article are from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since social interaction and mobility change in general play such a major role in disease spread, we studied three metrics: the total number of COVID-19 cases, the number of cases per 100,000 state residents, and the number of deaths in each U.S. county.

All three statistics come from USAFACTS.org, a company that compiles statistics about the novel coronavirus spread in the United States. The coronavirus statistics in the table below for these three counties reveal stark differences in each’s coronavirus spread.

Coronavirus Statistics of Best Counties for Traffic Change to Retail Stores and Recreational Facilities
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
CaliforniaMono241661
ColoradoPitkin593323
MontanaMadison8931

The number of coronavirus cases seems to follow the pattern of each county’s population. The largest number of cases is in Pitkin County. Madison County has the least. A better measure of the penetration of the coronavirus is our second statistic: cases per 100,000 residents. In this case, the population is being held for. It is a direct measure of how many infections there are in a county compared to others.

Pitkin County has 332 cases per 100,000 residents, well above Madison and Mono counties.

This seems to suggest that reduced mobility is only one of the ways counties can combat the coronavirus. There are other tools counties can use, including strict hygienic practices such as washing hands or using masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus through the air.

Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Retail Stores and Recreation

Like the designation of the best county, the designation of the worst county for traffic change on U.S. roads to retail stores and recreation facilities is split between more than one county. They are:

  1. Phillips County (Arkansas)
  2. Webster County (Missouri)
  3. DeKalb County (Tennessee)
  4. Wayne County (West Virginia)

Phillips County, Webster County, DeKalb County, and Wayne County all have a decline of just 1 percent in mobility or traffic change on U.S. roads to retail stores and recreation facilities. When it comes to population size, the four counties are split roughly in two.

DeKalb County and Phillips County have population sizes between 19,000 and 20,000. Wayne County and Webster County have populations above 38,000. The following table shows our statistics for the coronavirus spread in each county.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Retail Stores and Recreational Facilities
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
ArkansasPhillips4231
MissouriWebster13330
TennesseeDeKalb12590
West VirginiaWayne822086

For the two low-population counties, there is a large split between the two when it comes to our coronavirus statistics. DeKalb has eight more cases than Phillips and 36 more cases per 100,000 residents. There is a similar split for the two more populous counties. For those, Fort Wayne has 69 more cases for 175 more cases per 100,000 residents than Webster County.

This shows that a population difference solely doesn’t account for the penetration of the novel coronavirus into the community.

In this video, dated at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, CNBC covers the number of retailers that are closing throughout America. The names include large corporations like Apple and Under Armour.

This video was shot before the large statewide quarantines that would shut down retail stores across entire states and further reduce mobility to these and recreation facilities.

As we’ll see later, these quarantines impact auto insurance companies, and there are some health insurance companies that are affected as well.

Related: Check out our review of Thrivent Financial, which is a personal insurance company that writes supplemental health insurance plans.

Traffic Change from COVID-19 to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

Unlike our previous topic, grocery stores and pharmacies are considered essential businesses under most, if not all, stay-at-home orders. People might have their options limited when wanting to buy fashion designer clothes, but going to the grocery store or a pharmacy is a completely legal practice.

For this category, all counties experienced a decline in mobility. That may seem counterintuitive to the legality of going to a grocery store or pharmacy. However, many governments and organizations have been encouraging fewer visits and stocking up when a person goes. This limits the number of trips to the store, which would reduce mobility overall.

In this video, NBC News covers the unique strategies that grocery stores are implementing to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and to limit the exposure to shoppers who are trying to avoid infection but still get their food. One of these methods has been curbside pickup, which more grocery stores are offering.

Another method of getting groceries during the coronavirus pandemic is to use apps such as Postmates or Instacart to have groceries delivered directly to homes. A third method is to send one family member to go for groceries to limit the possible exposure to the entire family.

Best County for Traffic Change to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

There is only one county that counts as the best county for decreasing mobility to these stores. It is the second county selected from Colorado: Summit, which has a decline in mobility or traffic change on U.S. roads of 73 percent.

Located a little west of Denver, Summit County has a population of around 35,000. This puts it at the upper end of the population for the counties we’ve covered so far.

Summit County has been ahead of many statewide restrictions, enacting its public health order on March 16, 2020. To locals, this may not be a surprise. The first cases of COVID-19 were in Summit County.

This has contributed to its traffic change during stay-at-home orders toward grocery stores and pharmacies. How does it fare when it comes to the number of cases, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths? The table below has the answer.

Coronavirus Statistics of Best County for Traffic Change to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
ColoradoSummit973131

Of our counties covered so far, Summit County has a higher number of cases. It has 313 cases per 100,000 residents, just behind Pitkin County, also in Colorado. It has just one death.

When asked about why the county instituted a public health order before the state government of Colorado did, Brian Bovaird, the county’s emergency management director, said to Summit Daily:

“The model was there. Given our limited capacity in our hospital system, and because of our desire to do whatever we can to protect our community, we wanted all of those measures in place right away.”

Now, how about the worst counties?

Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

While there was just one county considered “best” for this category, there are a whopping 35 counties for the worst county. All of these “worst counties” have a decreased mobility of 1 percent. They are listed in the table below, with corresponding states and populations.

Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies by Population
StateCountyPopulation
TennesseeRhea County32,628
North CarolinaChowan County14,205
ArkansasMississippi County42,831
OklahomaBlaine County9,634
KansasHarvey County34,555
ArkansasCrawford County62,472
TennesseeCampbell County39,687
TennesseeMcNairy County25,903
OklahomaCaddo County29,342
OklahomaPushmataha County11,119
TexasPalo Pinto County28,317
LouisianaWashington Parish46,457
KansasFord County34,484
OklahomaSeminole County25,071
IndianaWarrick County61,928
MississippiTate County28,493
KansasSeward County22,692
West VirginiaHampshire County23,363
FloridaGilchrist County17,615
MississippiScott County28,415
TennesseeWeakley County33,626
FloridaGulf County16,055
North CarolinaNash County94,003
MaineHancock County54,541
South CarolinaSaluda County20,299
MissouriCallaway County44,840
CaliforniaColusa County21,464
IndianaJefferson County32,237
West VirginiaHancock County29,680
UtahDavis County340,621
IllinoisLivingston County36,324
TennesseeGrainger County23,013
NevadaHumboldt County16.904
UtahGrand County9,616
WisconsinWaushara County24,116

Davis County has the largest population with a little over 340,000 people. Our two least-populous counties are Grand County in Utah and Blaine County in Oklahoma. Both have around 9,600 people.

Then there is the little question about each county’s coronavirus statistics: the number of cases, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths due to the coronavirus. They are listed in the table below.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
StateCounty/ParishConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
ArkansasMississippi10250
ArkansasCrawford460
CaliforniaColusa3140
FloridaGilchrist4220
FloridaGulf170
IllinoisLivingston18511
IndianaWarrick781248
IndianaJefferson802122
KansasHarvey5150
KansasFord35010410
KansasSeward23210830
LouisianaWashington23250214
MaineHancock8150
MississippiTate381340
MississippiScott2007110
MissouriCallaway21471
NevadaHumboldt342022
North CarolinaChowan6430
North CarolinaNash71751
OklahomaBlaine000
OklahomaCaddo531845
OklahomaPushmataha000
OklahomaSeminole38524
South CarolinaSaluda231120
TennesseeRhea390
TennesseeCampbell13331
TennesseeMcNairy11430
TennesseeWeakley10300
TennesseeGrainger4170
TexasPalo Pinto7241
UtahDavis256722
UtahGrand1100
West VirginiaHampshire7301
West VirginiaHancock7240
WisconsinWaushara280

There is a large discrepancy between all three categories from the counties. There are four statistics that stand out:

  1. Ford and Seward counties have more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents. Both are in Kansas.
  2. Davis County is the most populous county but has a middle-of-the-pack cases per 100,000 residents rate.
  3. Washington Parish in Louisiana, which didn’t lead in either of the first two metrics,  has the highest number of deaths.
  4. 22 counties out of these 35 worst counties have not registered a death from the coronavirus.

It’s interesting to note that, so far, our best counties have some of the highest rates of the novel coronavirus, while some of our worst counties have relatively few cases. Insurance companies that write policies in some of the hardest-hit states may have adjusted premiums accordingly. Companies like Hiscox Insurance, which insures small businesses, might be suddenly struggling a great deal.

Traffic Change from COVID-19 to Parks

Exercise is important during quarantines, perhaps even more so now that ever. Because we are trapped inside our houses, it would be very challenging to maintain health and sanity if we couldn’t go outside for walks or runs. Many governments understood this early on and decided that exercise outdoors would be considered an essential activity.

While some people have reported working out more outdoors, the risk of large gatherings has led to many parks being closed.  These large gatherings might cause people to break social distancing rules and cause larger outbreaks. This leads us to our third category—travel distance to parks or traffic change on U.S. roads to parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Best County for Traffic Change to Parks

Which is the best county? There is only one. It is the third county from Colorado that we’ve mentioned as being among the best: Grand County. Located in the north-central part of the Rocky Mountains, Grand County is a relatively small county with a population of about 15,100. It has an 84 percent drop in mobility toward parks. It also has some of the lowest numbers of cases, cases per 100,000 residents, and deaths. You can see the metrics in the following table.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst County for Reduced Mobility to Parks Coronavirus Statistics
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
ColoradoGrand5320

Unlike some of our other best counties, Grand County can boast positive coronavirus statistics to back up its claim. Perhaps in addition to decreased mobility, residents of Grand County are practicing other measures of controlling the virus, such as strong hygienic habits or adhering to social distancing in public places.

Worst County for Traffic Change to Parks

The parks category has more in common with the grocery and pharmacy sections than the retail and recreation. This is because some parks are open like grocery stores and pharmacies, while most retail stores or recreational facilities are left closed.

However, for our first two categories, mobility for all counties or traffic change on U.S. roads during COVID-19 is reduced. For the category of parks, this is not the case.

Clay County, in Missouri, is found to be the worst county in traffic change to parks, having a shocking 214 percent increase in mobility despite stay-at-home orders.

This number is shocking, regardless of the county. There might some mitigating reasons for this, however. Clay County has a number of parks totaling over 6,000 acres, with lakes, docks, two championship golf courses, and other outdoor areas where people might congregate during the quarantine.

It also has over 239,000 people, making it one of our most populous counties in this list. Do this large population and massively increased mobility toward parks have an effect on the spread of the novel coronavirus? The following table shows all three of our coronavirus metrics—number of cases, cases per 100,000 residents, and number of deaths due to the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Statistics of Best County for Traffic Change to Parks
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
MissouriClay84341

There are just 84 confirmed cases in Clay County out of a population of 239,000. Its cases per 100,000 residents is a fairly pedestrian 34, and there is just one death. The massive increase in mobility or traffic change on U.S. roads during COVID-19 to parks doesn’t appear to be impacting the county—at least in terms of the spread of the coronavirus.

Again, we are confronted with a situation where a significant increase in mobility didn’t appear to impact the overall coronavirus spread of the county involved. It is another reinforcer that there are other ways of combating the spread of the coronavirus, including hygienic habits and social distancing.

This video by CBS News covers the issue of national parks and how there might be a danger in letting them remain open. In addition, many employees of national parks were calling for closure at the time of this video. Part of the issue was that it’d be difficult to enforce social distancing at these parks, especially if there was a flood of people to them.

In the video, Vice President Mike Pence also shares his initiative at keeping parks open and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Traffic Change from COVID-19 to Transit Stations

Buses, subways, trains. These transit stations and vehicles are not particularly conducive to preventing the novel coronavirus from spreading. Still, they have been deemed essential. Some people need them to get to and from work and others to perform essential activities like buying groceries. What is the mobility to transit stations compared to the other five categories?

At a nearly 50 percent drop, traffic change to transit stations has the largest change of all the mobility categories we studied.

The only category that has even a comparable change in traffic is the category of retail and recreation, which drops 45 percent in our analysis. While transit stations are often kept open, there is a steep drop in mobility toward them.

The reason? It is difficult for people to practice social distancing in these vehicles and stations, and people might be afraid of contracting the virus. In this category, over a thousand counties experienced a drop in mobility, and fewer than one hundred experienced a rise.

the counties with the least and most mobility towards transit stations during the coronavirus pandemic

Best County for Traffic Change to Transit Stations

With a population of 8,700, Gallatin County (Kentucky) comes in as the best county for this category. Its mobility toward transit stations was reduced 89 percent, a number that is 40 percent lower than the average compared to all counties.

We’ve seen, however, that reduced mobility in one category doesn’t seem to have any direct relationship with the spread of the coronavirus. Is this the case with Gallatin? The following table shows our coronavirus statistics for Gallatin County: the number of cases, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths.

Coronavirus Statistics of Best County for Traffic Change to Transit Stations
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
KentuckyGallatin1110

In this case, there might be an impact. Gallatin County has just one coronavirus case, 11 cases per 100,000 residents, and zero deaths. This might have to do with Gallatin’s overall mobility reduction. For three of its measurable categories—retail and residential, transit stations, and workplace—it has a reduction in mobility.

For the categories of grocery stores and pharmacies and parks, there is not enough data to draw a conclusion about Gallatin’s change in mobility or traffic change on U.S. roads during COVID-19.

Worst County for Traffic Change to Transit Stations

Texas has not fared so well in this report. In the grocery and pharmacy category, Palo Pinto County is one of the worst counties. In this category, Winkler County is considered the worst county. But while Palo Pinto County has a reduction in mobility, Winkler County has increased mobility by 75 percent. Why might this be the case?

Winkler County seemingly did not enact a county-wide quarantine order and chose to wait until Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order in late March for the entire state.

Has this large increase in transit stations mobility caused Winkler County to have an unusually high number of coronavirus cases? Some counties in the worst categories are really not that bad after all when it comes to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The table below shows how many coronavirus cases Winkler County has, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in the county.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst County for Traffic Change to Transit Stations
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
TexasWinkler3780

Winkler County’s number of coronavirus cases is three, but it has 78 cases per 100,000 residents. This doesn’t compare well to the best county in this category, Gallatin County, which has one case total and 11 cases per 100,000 residents.

It is possible that the delay in a county-wide quarantine might have hurt Winkler County and facilitated the spread of the virus throughout the county. In effect, mobility to transit stations was increased, and transit stations are known places where it is difficult to adhere to social distancing rules under some circumstances.

In this video, The Guardian follows a social worker who has to take the New York City subway every day to work. It notes a few statistics, such as over 90 percent of ridership is down in New York City since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many workers still have to use it to get to work, according to the publication. Even though most riders are taking precautions to avoid contagion, the subway poses a greater danger than other places because people are in such close proximity to one another.

Traffic Change to Workplaces Due to COVID-19

There are two categories left: travel distance to work and residential travel. This section will cover the former. So what does the quarantine have to with travel distance to work? It turns out, just about everything.

When the first case of coronavirus appeared in the United States, there first was a tepid response. But soon, the virus took over everything, spreading from city to city, demanding more strict measures to stop the spread. Soon, governors were issuing quarantines, confining people to their homes.

Essential businesses included: grocery stores, pharmacies, shipping industries, newspapers, some transportation, and some factories. For these businesses, workers could still go into the office. All other businesses were shuttered, with employees forced to work from home.

This has reduced mobility significantly. As we’ll see further down in the article, this has posed a problem for auto insurance companies. It may have even affected home insurance companies like Wellington Insurance Group.

These traffic changes on U.S. roads during COVID-19 can be seen in images of New York City and Los Angeles, where the roads are suddenly clear. It even impacts the environment, with clear skies and fresh air now present over major pollution hubs. So, it makes sense that in our study, mobility to workplaces would be reduced, possibly by a great deal. Is this correct? Let’s find out.

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Best County for Traffic Change to Workplaces

The best county for this section is Summit County, Utah. It has a population of 40,500 and boasts a 76 percent reduction in mobility to work. Summit County doubles the average mobility reduction for all counties, which is 38 percent. But is there any measurable impact on this reduced mobility and its coronavirus statistics?

The table below shows the number of coronavirus cases in Summit County, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths due to the novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus Statistics of Best County for Traffic Change to Workplaces
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
UtahSummit3518330

With 351 cases, Summit County has the highest number of cases of all counties and its 833 cases per person are actually third-highest out of all counties listed overall so far, ahead of just two counties. Those two counties were designated as the worst counties though, while Summit is ranked the best.

What is remarkable is that Summit County has reduced mobility in all five measurable categories. Its lowest reduction is 47 percent for the parks category.

Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Workplaces

We have two counties that are tied for the worst county designation: Hickory County (Missouri) and Taylor County (Wisconsin). These two counties are much smaller than Summit County, with 10,000 people residing in Hickory County and 20,000 in Taylor County. Both Hickory County and Taylor County have traffic drops of 2 percent.

As numbers have indicated for other counties, this may impact the coronavirus statistics, or it might not. Check out the table below for the number of cases for both counties, the number of cases per 100,000 residents, and deaths.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst Counties for Traffic Change to Workplaces
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
MissouriHickory000
WisconsinTaylor000

Both counties have zeros across the board—zero cases, zero cases per 100,000 residents, and zero deaths. They are both seemingly rural, which may have impacted these numbers or lack thereof.

This is partly the reason why some governors were reluctant to institute a statewide quarantine. The virus appears to spread far easier in dense, urban areas compared to sparsely populated, rural areas.

In this video, CNBC covers the issue facing many businesses as they are charged with operating a business full of remote employees, perhaps for the first time in their history. It notes that around 89 million Americans had jobs with the capability of working for home.

And for the employees who could only do their jobs in the office, they wouldn’t completely be in a financial lurch. They would now have opportunities through the internet for other remote jobs. This would help them make up the money lost if they couldn’t work their traditional job.

Although the general focus is on employees in America, there are some American employees that actually work across borders, such as the border with Mexico or Canada. Some of those workers may have been hit hard by border closings and had to rely on insurance companies such as Commercial Alliance Insurance Company for help if any is available.

Traffic Change from COVID-19 Within Neighborhoods

This may be our trickiest category yet. Residential travel distance or travel within neighborhoods is the only category where mobility or traffic change during on U.S. roads during COVID-19 actually increases. It does so by 14 percent. Why is this so?

While quarantines have limited our ability to go just about anywhere, it has not hindered our ability to travel within our neighborhoods. And for many, travel within their neighborhoods can be a life-saver, as people have the opportunity to walk, jog, bike, and get some much-needed exercise and sunlight.

In that respect, this category could almost be flip-flopped. Increased residential mobility might be looked at as positive, and decreased as a negative. But we’ll apply the same rules here: counties with the most reduction are considered the best and those with the least reduction or most increased mobility are seen as the worst.

a graphic showing the best and worst counties for mobility within neighborhoods during the coronavirus pandemic

As seen in the graph above, there is a large difference between counties where traffic has reduced the most and counties where traffic has increased the most. While this difference is not as demonstrable as in the parks category, for instance, it still shows a wide difference between counties that have reduced traffic and those that actually increased traffic.

This change in residential traffic may not be as surprising in this category, as people have been allowed to exercise outside in their neighborhoods, throughout many quarantines.

Best Counties for Traffic Change within Neighborhoods

There were 71 counties that had reduced mobility in residential neighborhoods at the time of this report. The top four are:

  1. McDonald County (Missouri)
  2. Cherokee County (Kansas)
  3. Garvin County (Oklahoma)
  4. Upson County (Georgia)

McDonald County, Cherokee County, Garvin County, and Upson County all have a 4 percent drop in residential mobility or traffic change during stay-at-home orders. All four counties have populations between 20,000 and 28,000, making them mid-sized out of their counties we’ve covered so far. What are their numbers of coronavirus cases, cases per 100,000 residents, and the number of deaths?

Coronavirus Statistics of Best Counties for Traffic Change within Neighborhoods
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
GeorgiaUpson19373314
KansasCherokee7350
MissouriMcDonald4180
OklahomaGarvin13470

There are three counties that are roughly the same. Gavin County, Cherokee County, and McDonald County all have low numbers of cases and low numbers of cases per 100,000 residents. Each has zero deaths.

Upson County, Georgia, is different. It has 193 cases, 733 cases per 100,000 residents, and 14 deaths. What might be surprising is that Upson County is not near a major metro area, which often encourages the spread of the virus.

Worst Counties for Traffic Change within Neighborhoods

There are just two counties tied for the worst county. Those are Union County in Ohio and Broomfield County in Colorado. Both are more populous than the average county. Union County has roughly 56,000 residents, and Broomfield County has around 66,000 residents.

Both Union County and Broomfield County are tied for a 30 percent rise in mobility within neighborhoods. The following table covers each county’s number of coronavirus cases, their cases per 100,000 residents, and deaths due to the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Statistics of Worst Counties for Traffic Change within Neighborhoods
StateCountyConfirmed CasesCases per 100,000 ResidentsDeaths
ColoradoBroomfield1261795
OhioUnion17290

Although each has a roughly similar population size, there is a stark difference in the statistics above. Broomfield has 109 more cases and 150 more cases per 100,000 residents. There are five coronavirus deaths in Broomfield County and zero in Union County.

Perhaps what may be contributing to these differences are two categories: parks and residential mobility. In those, Broomfield County has increased mobility. This might contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

In this video, dated in late March, The San Diego Union-Tribune covered residents of San Diego who were going on walks to cope with the difficulties and stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under their stay-at-home order, outdoor exercise is permitted, which has led to more and more residents seeking out walking and exercising opportunities in an attempt to make life feel a little more normal again.

How Reduced Mobility Affects Your Car Insurance

So how has the reduced mobility affected your car insurance? The good news is that it has affected it quite a bit. You might be getting money back either right this month or in the future. Here are the reasons why.

Because fewer people have been on the road, there have been fewer accidents or other incidents where you might need to file a claim.

This has led to a windfall in revenue for insurance companies, who have been taking in premiums for customers but not having to pay out as much money.

The insurance companies seemed to have recognized this and have started to give back some of those premiums. Most insurance companies have fallen into the same pattern when it comes to insurance refunds or credits: the months of April and May and somewhere between 15 and 25 percent refund or credits for premiums of those months.

However, there are some companies that stand out above the rest. Here’s how it all shakes out for all top 10 companies.

Car Insurance Refund Details
Insurance ProviderDiscount2020 monthsSavings (25-year-old male)
Allstate15% creditApril-May$89
American Family$50 rebateApril$50
Farmers25% creditApril$63
Geico15% credit at renewalto April '21$198
Liberty Mutual15% creditApril-May$113
Nationwide$50 rebateApril$50
Progressive20% creditApril-May$92
State Farm25% creditMarch-May$160
Travelers15% creditApril-May$62
USAA20% creditApril-May$71

If you are a customer of one of the top 10 insurance companies, you could calculate your reduction, credit, or refund based on your monthly rate. It is uncertain how this will play out the longer stay-at-home orders remain in place.

As an intelligence brief with Inside Property & Casualty noted, auto frequency continued to decline in April to about 50 percent.

Insurance companies will be under pressure to refund their clients because there are several public reports showing declines in the number of accidents, overall traffic, and vehicular miles traveled.

So far, including those listed above, 18 car insurance companies have come out with some sort of refund, credit, or rebate package for its consumers. There’s an idea that these refunds, credits, and rebates could significantly affect the companies in a negative manner, putting pressure on them in spite of their windfall in terms of premiums and lack of claims.

Part of the reduction of mobility that has hurt insurance companies is their own tracking methods through telematics systems. Each company seems to have its own system nowadays, like Progressive with Snapshot, and these methods provide car insurance companies with unparalleled data on how much their customers are driving.

As seen with systems such as Nationwide’s SmartRide, car insurance companies have access to how far their customers are driving before we see data coming in from independent organizations like traffic monitoring company INRIX. These telematics systems put the responsibility on the insurance companies to adjust and hand out refunds, especially in the face of legal restrictions of movement such as quarantines.

As the intelligence brief with Inside Property & Casualty notes, reduced movement such as automobile travel has a proven effect and is very easy to see. As such, customers are aware that companies are taking in a windfall and may expect automatically to receive a discount or refund.

Customers participating in Allstate’s Drivewise, for instance, can easily take a look at their monthly premium and ask themselves how much they’ve driven as a result of the quarantine. This can lead to questions about refunds, which almost every major company seems inline with for the past month.

Beware, however. COVID-19 fraudsters are impersonating insurance agents in an attempt to steal information. Being on your guard is helpful along with watching your evening news to get an idea of which frauds are in your area.

From Civil Rights to Small Businesses: Hot Takes on Quarantines

What do our experts have in common about the coronavirus quarantines? It turns out, quite a bit. From the legality of quarantines to their effects on small businesses, here are your experts with their hot takes on quarantines.

a graphic for experts from around the U.S.

“Use whatever euphemism you want, stay-at-home orders, shelter-in-place orders, or social distancing orders. They are all a violation of the constitutions of both the states and the United States.

Amendment V reads:

‘…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’

And Amendment XIV reads:

‘…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’

The constitutions of each of the 50 states also include a Bill of Rights that is very similar to the U.S. Constitution.

Governments may suggest, recommend, even encourage. But to deny anyone the liberty to live their lives as they see fit without due process of law (protection of the rights of all involved), they themselves are breaking the law.

The very idea that someone in government has the authority to determine what is and is not essential for every individual is anathema to the very idea of a free people.

When the people are deprived of their liberties, their ability to live as they see fit without arbitrary laws or those that violate their unalienable rights, then that government has become tyrannical. Many people say the government has a duty to protect the public’s health. Looking at the Declaration of Independence, the primary purpose of government is to protect our rights, not our persons or our health.

The Declaration of Independence reads, ‘That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….’

Does that mean people shouldn’t stay at home or practice social distancing? I believe taking precautions is the right thing for us to do. But that should be balanced against the needs of us individually. To those in government who think they have the power to infringe on the liberties of the American people, I remind them of the rest of the line I quoted from the Declaration of Independence:

‘That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.’

Perhaps it is time We the People exercise our right to alter our government. Personally, I would prefer to do that at the ballot box.”

a photo of Paul Engel, the founder of The Constitution StudyPaul Engel has spent more than 20 years studying and teaching history and religion.
He founded The Constitution Study to help Americans understand the Constitution.


“The effect of stay-at-home orders has certainly led to a diminution of traffic on all the major thoroughfares. Despite less traffic, there is a higher need for drivers to increase their awareness behind the wheel. Many drivers are taking advantage of the decrease in traffic and paying less regard to speeding laws. It seems to me that the decrease in traffic has led to an increase in risky driving behavior.”

What are some of the steps your county has chosen to “flatten the curve” or stop the spread of the novel coronavirus?

“Queens County in New York where I reside has actively been involved in flattening its curve with increased social distancing regulations. County regulations have limited the number of occupants inside an establishment at any one time. Customers must maintain six feet social distance at all times and many stores only allow a maximum of 10 customers inside.”

What is your personal take on shelter-in-place orders—is yours too restrictive, necessary, or do you like it at all?

“Shelter-in-place orders were initially a good idea at the start of the pandemic to allow the authorities to assess the risk of the COVID-19 virus. However, it is incumbent upon the authorities to develop a plan of action that allows Americans to get back to work as soon as possible.

Shelter-in-place orders that prevent a person from earning a living wage will have long-term economic consequences that could be just as harmful to an individual as the virus.”

What do you think the impact of shelter-in-place orders is on small businesses?

“The impact of shelter-in-place orders on small businesses is nothing short of catastrophic. Many small businesses operate on extremely thin margins that will not allow for the business to be shut down for an extended period of time.

A small business owner has a legal obligation to pay their rent to their landlord every month even if the business is closed or suffering from a significant decrease in traffic. Many small businesses will be forced to close their doors if their business becomes unprofitable.”

What essential businesses that are doing business or where people are gathering that you wish were closed?

“Many localities have deemed daycare centers as an essential business. While the benefit to health care workers with small children may justify deeming a daycare center as an essential business, there is an increased concern that a child or adult at a daycare center could contract the virus at the open facility.

Many young children will not follow social distancing rules because they are too young to understand rules. Furthermore, young children may be asymptomatic carriers that bring the virus back into their homes where older susceptible adults are at increased risk of harm. For these reasons, it is much better if daycare centers were kept closed.”

Do you agree with “outing” people on social media who have broken the shelter-in-place order?

“A person should not be outed for breaking the shelter-in-place order. People that out their neighbors do not know the personal circumstances that may justify somebody breaking the shelter-in-place order. I do worry that the mass media, social media, and a general mob mentality that promotes outing people that do not shelter-in-place, as being long-term extremely corrosive to our society.

America was founded on the principles of individual liberty and freedom and it is dangerous to promote behavior that attempts to punish a person merely for not following the collective group-think. People need to learn to mind their own business even when they disagree with the actions taken by others.”

David Reischer is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com. David is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.David Reischer is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
David is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.


“As a resident of a rural Missouri county that chose early on to fall into lockstep with the panicked stay-at-home orders from the governor, the restrictions seemed to be out of touch with the level of potential danger. For example, there have been a grand total of five actual COVID-19 cases in the entire Howell County where I live in Missouri. One could, of course, take the position that the restrictions deserved the credit.

Alternatively, one could presume that there wouldn’t have been many cases here whether we went around drooling and sneezing on one another or not. The actual restrictions were garden variety. Non-essential businesses must close. Essential businesses would limit the number of customers inside at one time or switch to a delivery or curbside model.

Social distancing remains in place. Though face masks are suggested in public, the area is independent enough that few wear them and those that don’t have little fear of receiving social media reprisals. Has there been an impact on small businesses? Oh, definitely.

Many small businesses didn’t even bother trying to stay open, as they knew the restrictions placed such a burden on their customer demographics that few would bother trying to shop until COVID-19 passed.

A few operators, in particular the most popular BBQ restaurant and pizza joint, figured out quick pivots that appear to have even increased their popularity. For example, the BBQ eatery developed a breakfast menu, which they had never had before, and it continues to go like gangbusters after a month.

The pizza place opted to sell make-at-home kits for $10 that included a dough ball, sauce, and all the toppings individually packaged inside a pizza box. But these sorts of creative business responses to severe quarantine restrictions are the exception rather than the rule.

In general, local small businesses are hurting badly and the expiration of the stay-at-home orders and closing of non-essential businesses can’t come soon enough. Hopefully, the damage done isn’t permanent. The one-size-fits-all approach to flattening the curve creates a very real risk of killing the local economy.”

a photo of Carla Diaz, the co-founder of Broadband SearchCarla Diaz is the co-founder of Broadband Search, a TV & internet comparison site.
Due to being online, her company hasn’t suffered financially as many others have.


What is your personal take on shelter-in-place orders—is yours too restrictive, necessary, or do you like it at all?

“In my experience, any forced or mandatory shelter-in-place measure is a step too far. The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are certainly at risk and should take whatever measures they need to protect themselves.

It’s also important to recognize that, in general, people tend to do the right thing when they are informed about a situation. Certainly, it’s necessary for each of us to take extra precautions to avoid risking exposing any elderly or at-risk individuals. However, the shelter-in-place orders tend to overlook other health concerns people face.

It’s important to consider that the elderly also need love and care. Avoiding at-risk people entirely may be detrimental to their overall health in ways unrelated to COVID-19.

Secondly, Americans already spend too little time exercising. According to the CDC, heart disease accounts for one in four deaths annually or about 647,000 people a year in the U.S. alone. The last thing Americans should be doing, in my opinion, is moving/exercising less. Which is exactly the behavior that shelter-in-place laws facilitate.

Finally, it’s also important to recognize that the flu kills a tremendous amount of people each year. During the 2017-2018 flu season, influenza hospitalized 810,000 people and killed an estimated 61,000, 50,000 of which were individuals aged 65 and older. That is in the U.S. alone.”

What do you think the impact of shelter-in-place orders is on small businesses?

“Small businesses are undoubtedly impacted heavily by shelter-in-place orders. As a small business owner myself, I know how difficult it is to make your business function from day-to-day. Let alone go for weeks or longer without getting paid.

Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the resources to lobby the government for money like larger companies do. Even when the government allocates money to small businesses, they may not get it. And in many cases, when they do, it arrives slowly.

After a few weeks of waiting for help from the government, most small businesses will crumble. Meanwhile, larger companies backed with government funding are ready and waiting to pick up the clientele of the smaller businesses.”

Do you agree with “outing” people on social media who have broken the shelter-in-place order?

“In general, the outing of people on social media has been a huge problem over the years. often the individual doing the outing isn’t any more informed than the outed. Emotional attacks on individuals should never be encouraged. Too many have had their lives torn asunder from social media shame mobs for alleged actions or in-actions that may or may not have occurred.

As a former vegan who has participated in his fair share of social media outrage mobs, I can tell you one thing. They simply don’t work. No one learns from being scolded online by a group of strangers. And in truth, most social media outings are the result of incomplete information or assumptions that may not be true about the individual being outed.

If you are concerned about someone’s behavior, and truly want to do the right thing. You should approach them in private, and discuss the matter directly. If that doesn’t work, courts exist for a reason. When someone has done you wrong or violated the law, let the courts do their work. Otherwise, we end up tipping the scales of justice into a tyrannical society. Outing people on social media is about ego, not doing what is right.”

a photo of Douglas Dedrick, the founder of HealingLaw.comDouglas Dedrick is the founder and lead researcher of HealingLaw.com.
Healing Law is an organization dedicated to making law simple and accessible for all.


Final Word on Mobility During the Coronavirus Pandemic

When it comes to our mobility during the coronavirus pandemic, we have reduced it overall. All but mobility within neighborhoods is down, with some categories of mobility as much as 49 percent. Mobility has been said to be key in the fight against the novel coronavirus, with quarantines across the country imposing a measure of restriction on people.

Whether those restrictions have worked remains to be seen until well after the pandemic. Then, the statisticians will have an opportunity to look further at the information and data to see what worked or not. This can help us prepare defenses and develop better measures to fight the next pandemic.

In the case of this report, the number of coronavirus cases and the number of cases per 100,000 residents does not seem correlated with a best or worst county.

Sometimes, mobility is greatly reduced and a county has a high number of cases. Sometimes, counties with little reduced mobility or increased mobility have a low number of cases.

As such, it is likely that the spread of coronavirus cases has more to do with more factors than just mobility. This may include handwashing or the use of masks to stop the aerosol forms of the virus.

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19

To tie up some loose ends about the novel coronavirus, we’ve put together six questions that will answer all the broad points of the virus and the pandemic that is causing widespread upheaval in the United States and all around the world. Many of these questions are those we all have about the coronavirus pandemic and relate directly to us avoiding the virus and remaining healthy.

#1 – Can I refuse to go back to work because of the coronavirus?

The short answer, barring some exceptions, is that you can’t. Most workers in America are classed under “at-will,” meaning a company can fire any employee based on any reason that is not illegal. So, refusing to go to work would be considered a resignation from employment. However, there are laws that vary according to state that give protection to workers.

There are also laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act or the National Labor Relations Act that give you the option of staying home when there are “unsafe” conditions in the workplace. It is possible that you’d need a more specific reason for the “unsafe” conditions than just a general concern about the coronavirus.

#2 – Is the coronavirus slowing down in the U.S.?

There are some rough estimates, including those Dr. Fauci shared in early April, that the coronavirus outbreak in the United States might be turning a corner and starting to slow down. These estimates have to do with decreased hospitalizations or a declining number of new cases.

However, even with states starting to reopen, some experts are warning that this will lead to a resurgence in cases, with much higher numbers for both cases diagnosed and deaths heading into summer, with some experts suggesting that a larger, second wave will hit in the fall.

#3 – What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

The three predominant symptoms of the novel coronavirus are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. In certain cases, people can develop more serious symptoms like shortness of breath. This shortness of breath can eventually lead to pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and then possibly death.

While the novel coronavirus often has less than a 10 percent death rate in many countries, it can impact the elderly population the most and people with certain pre-existing conditions.

#4 – What should you do if you have the coronavirus?

The coronavirus is serious business. It affects humans of all types. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list several steps you can take if you feel like you have been infected by the coronavirus. The first step is to stay home and not rush to the hospital right away.

The majority of people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms that you can recover from while at home. However, if you experience more concerning symptoms like trouble breathing or persistent chest pain, you can call 911 for immediate help.

#5 – What is the difference between coronavirus and COVID-19?

The term coronavirus, as it is used in the press, refers to the same virus as COVID-19. There are a few differences, however, in the terms themselves. Coronavirus refers to a strain of viruses that are known for a “crown” of glycoproteins (“corona” means crown in Spanish) that emerges from its viral envelope.

The term COVID-19 came from the World Health Organization and is used as the official term of the coronavirus that emerged in the late part of 2019 and has created a pandemic throughout the world.

#6 – Is there a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19?

As of this moment, there is no vaccine or FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. While a vaccine might take months to produce, there are hundreds of clinical trials ongoing for different medicines that might make an impact when treating a patient for COVID-19. These include medicines originally approved to combat Ebola, HIV, and malaria, as well as some basic medicine like Vitamin C or over-the-counter treatments of heartburn.

There is certainly a race to get the first medicine approved and several studies are being fast-tracked using compassionate use trials or within academic publications.

#7 – How long does the virus that causes COVID-19 live on surfaces?

While there is no known accurate information about how long COVID-19 can last on surfaces, the thought is that other coronavirus strains can last anywhere from a few hours to several days on surfaces. This can include being on top of bags that are used for food delivery, surfaces on public transportation vehicles like buses or subways, and airplanes if someone needs to travel.

Many people, when in public or on public transportation, carry antiseptic hand wipes to disinfect surfaces around them. Other people have been known to touch anything not necessary, even on walks in nature or a park.

#8 – Can the coronavirus disease spread through food?

While the coronavirus appears to be stable in some situations where there is a low or freezing temperature, safe food handling practices can eliminate the change of transmitting the coronavirus through food. These safe food handling practices include extensive and consistent hand washing and possibly the use of gloves. If the virus is present within food, cooking it at high temperatures should kill the virus.

Methodology

For this study, we looked at 21,668 data points, including data from 2,737 counties for the mobility categories of retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. That information came from Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports that cover the entire United States.

We also included statistics about populations of each category, which was done through the U.S. Census Bureau (for the year 2018). We then added coronavirus statistics—number of cases, number of cases per 100,000 residents, and number of deaths—from USAFacts.org.

By using these three data sources, we were able to show a vivid picture of how counties compared to each other, what were some aberrations, what were some unusual findings.

We saw counties big and small that contained unusually small numbers of cases and counties big and small that contained unusually large numbers of cases. We also included information about the top 10 car insurance companies giving back billions of dollars to their customers, after they had taken a windfall due to the reduced mobility. We hoped you enjoyed this study.

References:

  1. https://www.census.gov/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/
  3. https://www.who.int/
  4. https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/
  5. https://usafacts.org/
  6. https://insuranceinsider.com/p-and-c
  7. https://www.summitdaily.com/news/officials-despite-using-different-language-summit-county-already-has-a-stay-at-home-order-in-place/

About Chris Tepedino

Chris Tepedino is a features writer for ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. He frequently offers statistical analysis about pressing insurance or driving-related topics like distracted driving, traffic reductions, and the coronavirus pandemic.

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Number of people currently confirmed to have COVID-19, in the US
Number of people currently confirmed to have COVID-19, in the US
Retail & Recreation % Decline in Mobility During COVID-19 Pandemic by County
Workplace % Decline in Mobility During COVID-19 Pandemic by County
Retail & Recreation % Decline in Mobility During COVID-19 Pandemic by County
Workplace % Decline in Mobility During COVID-19 Pandemic by County