Grading social distancing in Tampa Bay: Residents still mobile, terrible at staying home

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TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – Social distancing is something only a couple of Tampa Bay communities are taking seriously, a new study shows.

Using cellular GPS data in conjunction with coronavirus updates from the Johns Hopkins’ GitHub repository, Unacast.com found that most Tampa Bay area residents are still very mobile and not heeding the warning of federal officials.

The study gives each location a letter grade ranging from A to F, based on the percent of change in how residents of those locations adjust their travel.

An “A” indicates more than a 40 percent decrease in social behavior, “B” is a 30 to 40 percent decrease, “C” is between a 20 and 30 percent decrease and a “D” is a 10 to 20 percent decrease. An “F” indicates only a 4 percent decrease in mobility.

Pinellas County had the highest social distancing score among all 10 counties, with a 40 percent decrease in mobility.

Hillsborough also earned a “B,” with a 30 percent decrease in mobility.

Those two counties recently worked together in putting safer-at-home orders in place. Hillsborough’s safer-at-home order began March 27, while Pinellas County began its safer-at-home order on March 26.

Other high-scoring counties were Manatee, which had a 31 percent decrease and Sarasota County, which had a 32 percent decrease in activity.

The lowest score in the area came from Hardee County, where only an 8 percent change in social activity was measured.

As a whole, Florida received a “B,” despite no statewide stay-at-home orders from the governor.

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, social distancing guidelines were put forth by the federal government and extended by President Donald Trump Sunday evening.

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