Lockdown protests may have spread virus widely, cellphone data suggests

Posted by on May 18, 2020 6:00 am
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Categories: Global Stories

Devices associated with protesters travelled up to hundreds of miles after rallies where few precautions were taken

Cellphone location data suggests that demonstrators at anti-lockdown protests – some of which have been connected with Covid-19 cases – are often traveling hundreds of miles to events, returning to all parts of their states, and even crossing into neighboring ones.

The data, provided to the Guardian by the progressive campaign group the Committee to Protect Medicare, raises the prospect that the protests will play a role in spreading the coronavirus epidemic to areas which have, so far, experienced relatively few infections.

The anonymized location data was captured from opt-in cellphone apps, and data scientists at the firm VoteMap used it to determine the movements of devices present at protests in late April and early May in five states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado and Florida.

Related: Protesters descend on Michigan capitol but rain washes away demonstration

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