The United States has now surpassed China as the country with the most number of COVID-19 cases, but that doesn't seem to stop its population from travelling. A heat map that tracks the cellphone location data of the US population has provided a terrifying insight into the movements of the country's inhabitants amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The data, obtained by location technology company X-Mode, was recently entered into a geospatial data visualisation platform known as Textonix as part of an effort to track the spread of the coronavirus around the world.
Cellphone location-tracking heat map
While the project aims to create awareness about the importance of social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic using cellphone location data, X-Mode says they're not violating a user's privacy as the obtained data is not linked to its owner's identity.
Data reveals people are moving around amid outbreak
For instance, smartphones on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were tracked during Spring Break and the location data from the devices showed them spreading out to the far corners of the Eastern half of the country, potentially carrying the highly contagious virus with them.
Apart from Florida, the project also looked at data from New York City, which has been the worst-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak with close to 39,000 confirmed infections and 365 deaths. What they found was just like Florida, the NYC data, particularly Manhattan, shows widespread movement of people throughout the month of March.
Despite New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's issuance of a stay-at-home order last week, cellphone owners were seen travelling not only within the country but internationally as well, possibly spreading the contagion to other countries.
US needs to enforce stricter lockdown regulations
The United States now has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, more than even China and Italy, with a total of more than 85,500 confirmed cases, and the death toll currently stands at 1,300. The US government, especially the administration of President Donald Trump, has received criticism for a slow response to the situation in the country and continues to enforce loosened federal guidelines to contain the virus.
However, the government will have to enforce stricter quarantine and social distancing measures if it wants to stand a chance against a rampantly-spreading virus that has claimed over 24,000 lives and infected more than 5,32,000 people around the world.