DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado COVID-19 researchers are using cellphone data to help understand how the virus is transmitted and what role leaving the house plays in spreading the illness.
FOX31 first broke down this concept with researchers about a month ago.
FOX31’s Problem Solvers learned a lot has changed in the last few weeks.
“Quite a bit of change – people in Colorado and across the nation have largely resumed the mobility patterns we had last year,” said Jude Bayham, an assistant professor at Colorado State University and a member of the state’s COVID-19 modeling research team.
According to Bayham, data showed when people stayed at home, cases started to lower. Now, with people heading back into town, he says, cases are surprisingly not spiking back up.
“We would expect to see cases increase very dramatically, we’re not seeing that right now,” Bayham said, adding, “So, it must be that something is breaking that connection and it has to be these other behaviors.”
Bayham believes social distancing, masks and sanitation practices are all factors helping keep cases down, even with increased mobility.
“We’re in a good place, I would say good but with caution,” Bayham said.
According to Bayham, cellphone data does show one particular concern when it comes to travel patterns inbound to Colorado. He says people in hotter states with increasing cases are traveling to Colorado.
“There’s a possibility that some of the people visiting may be infected, so it’s a potential new source for transmission in the state,” Bayham said. “I think it’s something we all need to be aware of and continue to engage in protective behaviors.”
Bayham said the group analyzed aggregated, anonymous cellphone data supplied by a company called Safe Graph.
The data is collected from people whose location services were turned on over the past several months.
“There is absolutely no way we can identify an individual in here. What we are looking at is broad trends and usage. Even then, the data seemed to capture about 10 percent of the population,” he said. “It is certainly not comprehensive. It’s not tracking everybody all the time.”