Seattle-area residents have significantly reduced their movement around the city as state and local officials have urged citizens to stay home to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, the decrease in activity in Seattle hasn’t been as sharp as in San Francisco and New York, where officials are not just urging but ordering people to stay at home except for essential activities.
That’s according to an index from mobility app Citymapper, which studies app usage and trip-planning to measure current activity in a city against a more typical period.
- Seattle’s activity was 18% of normal on Saturday, according to the latest Citymapper data, released this weekend.
- Activity in New York City, part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide executive order on Friday, was about 10% of normal on Saturday.
- In the Bay Area, which has been under “shelter in place” orders for almost a week, activity in San Francisco was 9% of normal.
The numbers are helping to fuel calls for Gov. Jay Inslee and other leaders to take more drastic action to keep citizens from spreading the disease through social interactions.
@kcexec @DowC @GovInslee @MayorJenny – Seattle's going out way more than SF, NY, Chicago. It's time for a shelter-in-place order, don't you think? (Thanks for your service and leadership. Data from citymapper for 3/21) pic.twitter.com/irO5B2cFzz
— Peter Wilson (@peterwil) March 22, 2020
Data compiled for the New York Times Opinion pages by Descartes Labs similarly shows travel in California and New York state decreasing more than in Washington state.
Separately, supporters of a mandatory shelter-in-place order in the Seattle region called on Inslee to institute a shelter-in-place order, under the hashtag #shutitdownjay, and thousands of people have signed a petition, as well.
At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Inslee addressed citizens directly: “I’m asking you, and may I say I am pleading with you, to stay home unless it is necessary to go out.”
Inslee cited a reduction in traffic on some key roadways as evidence that activity has been reduced significantly, but acknowledged in some cases that the reduction is “not enough.” Inslee added, “It is clear that we have continuation of too many social interactions going on in our state.”
Later, Inslee was asked why he hadn’t ordered a shelter-in-place policy. He said the state is evaluating the situation daily.
Washington has “accomplished a significant part of what California and New York have done,” he said, “and if you really drill down to what those orders have been, we actually have done a substantial part of that” by closing schools, entertainment facilities, and restaurants, and restricting public gatherings.
Inslee didn’t rule out the possibility of taking more drastic action, saying on Friday, “We are looking at this data to figure out the moment where it might make sense to do that.”
Washington state and the Seattle region were the early epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. However, as of Sunday evening, New York state has now been much harder hit, with more than 15,000 cases, vs. less than 2,000 in each of Washington state and California, according to data compiled by the New York Times.
Updated on Monday morning with additional information on calls for a mandatory shelter in place order.