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Google Data shows Utahns didn't return to work in big numbers in early May

Posted at 8:24 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 22:24:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Smartphone data from Google shows a slight uptick in the number of Utahns returning to work in early May, but not so much to suggest anything like a return to normalcy.

Mobility data provided by Google, using aggregated information from smart phone users, now extends into the first nine days of May. It was during that time that both states began to ease restrictions to residents.

Denver and Salt Lake are the two biggest cities on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and they both have significant numbers of Covid-19 cases, but Denver faces a bigger problem.

Residents of both cities have stayed home from work to a large degree. In the following charts, I include a line at -50% to help see the comparison. Denver has a noticeably high percentage of people not going to work.

These charts compare both states as a whole, allowing us to factor in urban and rural areas. Per 100K residents there isn't as big a difference between neighbors, though Utah still sees a significantly smaller caseload.

The patterns stay the same, though Coloradans as a whole did not stop traveling to work quite as much as those living in Denver County. Utahns did tend to stay home in similar numbers with residents of Salt Lake County.

While not included in this story, I plotted the numbers for Utah County as well and they were almost indistinguishable from Salt Lake County in terms of the percentages not traveling to work.

Along with being neighbors, Colorado and Utah faced similar challenges, including initial outbreaks in ski towns.