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Google measuring how well states, including Iowa, are social distancing

Google is using data from people who have turned on their "Location History" setting to assess what has changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Credit: AP
Residents visit outside their homes on Shetland Court in Dubuque, Iowa, on Monday, May 23, 2020. Residents of the neighborhood have started to check-in with each other at 5 p.m. daily since people have been encouraged to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nicki Kohl/Telegraph Herald via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Google has begun "COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports" to show how users' movement has changed in response to the outbreak. 

The mobility reports are broken down by each location and displays the changes of visits to places like grocery stores, workplaces, and parks. 

According to Google, these reports are all based on a user's location settings on their mobile phone and they must have a significant amount of users in order to avoid violating any privacy standards. 

While the report could be a useful tool to identify "hot spots" of people gathering, it is not intended to be used for any state-specific guidance.

"Google prepared this report to help you and public health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance related to COVID-19," Google wrote. "This report shouldn’t be used for medical diagnostic, prognostic, or treatment purposes. It also isn’t intended to be used for guidance on personal travel plans."

All 99 Iowa counties are represented in the report, though some county-specific categories did not register enough data.

RELATED: You can still go outside while social distancing, just be smart about it

Overall Trends

Most major categories on Iowa have seen a sharp decline in mobility traffic, meaning less people are attending or visiting different categories based on Google data.

This includes: 

  • 43% decline in Retail & Recreation
  • 10% decline in Grocery & Pharmacy
  • 28% decline in Transit Stations
  • 29% decline in Workplaces 

Two categories that have a reported uptick in traffic:

  • 41% increase in Parks
  • 10% increase in Residential

Polk County

What's on the decline?

  • 44% drop in Retail & Recreation
  • 9% drop in Grocery & Pharmacy
  • 45% drop in Transit Stations
  • 34% drop in Workplaces

What's on the rise?

  • 66% increase in Parks
  • 10% increase in Residential

RELATED: What does it look like to be in a 'deserted' Des Moines?