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Social distancing varies by income in US

A graph from the study depicts the percentage of people staying completely at home on weekdays, by income quintile. The highest income levels are represented in yellow, and the lowest are in purple. This was measured with census-tract level income using SafeGraph mobile phone data. Credit: J.Weill et. al. Wealthier communities went from being the most mobile before the COVID-19 pandemic to the least mobile, while poorer areas have gone from the least mobile to the most mobile, according to a study by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , used anonymized data from mobile device location pings between January and April 2020 to find that social distancing in the United States varies strongly by income.

The study showed about a 25 percentage point jump of the wealthiest census tracts staying completely at home compared with a 10 percentage point increase in staying at home in the poorest communities.

“We found that before the pandemic , individuals in the wealthiest neighborhoods tended to be the least likely to stay completely at home on a given day,” said lead author Joakim Weill, a graduate student with the UC Davis Department of […]

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