Cellphone data shows Mississippi residents already on move again after COVID-19 virus restrictions ease

Published 2:48 pm Monday, May 11, 2020

Data collected from cellphones during the COVID-19 pandemic show that Mississippi residents have become more active in recent days.

Two websites that track data from mobile phones shows that from March 1 through May 8 the activity among Mississippi residents slowed down significantly in the latter part of March and into April when Gov. Tate Reeves issued a stay-at-home order for the state.

A website by Descartes Labs color codes maps to show the level of activity in each county. The darker the color the higher the activity level.

Between late March and most of April, the maps from Descartes Labs paint the state in light shades of green and blue. Maps from early May slowly darken.

Since Reeves has issued new orders that begin to reopen the state’s economy, mobile phone data shows that activity has increased and that cellphone users have become more mobile in recent days.

In late March, as social distancing and stay-at-home orders were still relatively new, a survey found that Mississippi merited top marks for adhering to those policies.

Similarly, a website called Unacast also analyzes cellphone data to see how many people are interacting with each other each day.

They’ve assigned a score to each of the states. Back in late March, Mississippi earned a “B.”

As of May 7, however, the state earns a collective grade of “F.”

The Unacast scorecard measures the data in three categories:

  1. The reduction in average mobility, based on distances traveled by cellphone users.
  2. The reduction in nonessential visits by cellphone users
  3. The decrease in the density of encounters with other cellphone users.

In all three categories, the state received an “F” grade based on the most recent data available.

Currently, no state ranks higher than a “C+” in the overall score. Nevada earned a C+. Vermont earned a “C” and New Mexico and Montana earned a “C-” grade. Twenty-four states received an “F” grade.