COVID-19 researchers spot new trends through cell phone data as restrictions lift

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — Last year, Problem Solvers learned how Colorado COVID-19 researchers are using our cell phone data to help understand how the virus is transmitted and what role leaving the house plays in spreading the illness.

Now that restrictions are being lifted across the state, FOX31’s Nicole Fierro has the news changes in trends.

“Mobility is at its highest levels than it has been since the start of the pandemic. We also see jumps when the public health restrictions were lifted,” Jude Bayham, an assistant professor at Colorado State University and a member of the state’s COVID-19 modeling research team said.

Data shows we still aren’t spending as much time out of the house than we were before the pandemic. According to Bayham, Coloradan’s time away from home is still about 15% below pre-pandemic levels and time at restaurants remains about 30% below pre-pandemic levels.

“There is still room for mobility to increase so what we’re keeping an eye on is how these same mobility metrics still correspond to transmission,” Bayham said.

Bayham tells FOX31 transmission rates are higher in areas with lower vaccination rates and where people are moving around more. He’s noticed this particularly in some of the counties in the southeastern region.

“So, the pandemic is not over, it’s still there and it still poses risk, but we are obviously making progress,” Bayham said. 

Researchers are now expanding their metrics to dig into the impact weather is having on people going out more as well as its impact on transmission of COVID-19 alltogether.

“The literature is suggesting the virus can survive better in dryer, cooler climates. We’re trying to understand what that means for Colorado,” Bayham said. 

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