Social distancing in Chatham County during the first week of June

by Gene Galin

Are Chatham County residents staying at home and practicing social distancing? For an answer we check in with the University of Maryland, which has been maintaining a COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform page.

photo by Gerd Altmann

For the period between May 31 to June 7, 2020 the stats show that the Chatham County Social Index* is 26. The North Carolina social index for the same period is 25.

  • 19% of Chatham County residents are staying at home
  • Average number of trips taken per person per day – 3.09
  • 42.3% of Chatham residents travel out-of-county each day
  • Average miles traveled per person per day – 44
  • Number of active COVID-19 cases per 1000 people – 1.83
  • Number of residents exposed to COVID-19 per 1000 people – 7.72
  • New COVID-19 cases – 93
  • 1.41% deaths among all COVID-19 cases
  • Population – 73K
  • Percent of population above the age of 60 – 31%
  • Population density – 98 per sq. mile
  • Unemployment rate – 23.9%
  • Median income – $63,531
  • Percent working from home – 22.7%

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have been exploring how social distancing and stay-at-home orders are affecting travel behavior and the spread of the coronavirus. They claim they are using privacy-protected data from mobile devices, government agencies, health care systems, and other sources.

The UMD social distancing index is computed from six mobility metrics by this equation: social distancing index = 0.8[% staying home + 0.01(100 – %staying home)(0.1% reduction of all trips compared to pre-COVID-19 benchmark + 0.2% reduction of work trips + 0.4% reduction of non-work trips + 0.3% reduction of travel distance)] + 0.2% reduction of out-of-county trips. The weights are chosen based on share of residents and visitor trips (e.g., about 20% of all trips are out-of-county trips, which led to the selection of a weight of 0.8 for resident trips and 0.2 for out-of-county trips); what trips are considered more essential (e.g., work trips more essential than non-work trips); and the principle that higher social distancing index scores should correspond to fewer chances for close-distance human interactions and virus transmissions.


*Social index is an integer from 0~100 that represents the extent residents and visitors are practicing social distancing. “0” indicates no social distancing is observed in the community, while “100” indicates all residents are staying at home and no visitors are entering the county.

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