The U.S. is back on the move: Cell phone data shows how states are easing out of lockdown

Cell phone data shows how states are easing out of lockdown with Texas, which was first to reopen, seeing a 40 per cent increase in driving and 10 per cent more New Yorkers out for a walk over the weekend. 

Graphs based on requests for directions on Apple Maps show how a rise in people across all major cities are leaving their homes to go for walks, take drives and use public transport.  

Americans in about half of U.S. states, led by Texas and Georgia, began emerging on Friday from home confinement. And while California and New York held fast to business closures and other restrictions imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic data shows it citizens are also on the move.  

The figures are based on the change in routing requests since January 13, 2020, Apple says. In Michigan – which has seen widespread protests against lockdown orders – there was a 50 per cent jump in driving from the data in mid April compared to this weekend. 

And in Georgia, at least 60 per cent more people were back on the road this weekend compared to mid April. 

About half of U.S. states, joined by some local jurisdictions, have moved toward at least partial lifting of shutdowns as the number of new COVID-19 cases began to drop or level off. 

Governors have been under pressure from citizens agitating for relief from the restrictions as U.S. Department of Labor data this week showed some 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since March 21. 

Georgia has so far gone farthest toward reopening its economy, with nearly every business in the state free to reopen on Friday. The move by Republican Governor Brian Kemp is being watched by the federal government and other states to see if the number of cases in Georgia surge. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top pandemic adviser to Trump, said earlier this week he was concerned about states and communities reopening ahead of a timeline recommended by the White House. 

And White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx says social distancing will be with Americans through the summer. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warns of a ‘different way of life’ until there is a widely available vaccine — maybe not until next year. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says: ‘There is no return to yesterday in life.’ 

As of Sunday more than 1.1 million Americans have been infected by the virus; the death toll stands at 67,173. 


Cases: 7,611 Deaths: 288 

Alabama’s retail stores are allowed to reopen from April 30 at a reduced 50 percent capacity. Beaches will reopen but residents have to adhere to social distancing, including not gathering in groups of 10 or more. 

Cell phone data shows that since then the amount of people driving across the state has soared passed the baseline. 

Restaurants and bars are still limited to take-out only. Other business including theaters, night clubs, fitness centers, barber shops, hair and nail salons will remain closed.  

The updated order expires May 15.   


Cases: 365 Deaths: 9 

Reopening of restaurants, stores, hair and nail salons and other businesses starting April 24. Since the amount of people driving in the state has gone back to pre lockdown figures, according to the new data. 

Under the new rules in some Alaska territories, restaurants will reopen but are limited to 25 percent capacity and there must be 10 feet between tables and only family members can be seated at the same table.

Salons in Alaska may only accept customers by appointment.

Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, where some 40 percent of residents live, will not begin easing restrictions until Monday.  


Cases: 53,655 Deaths:  2,194

California has also seen protests over Governor Gavin Newsom’s sweeping stay-at-home orders, which remain fully in place, and crack-down on beach goers who have defied those restrictions.

Newsom struck a conciliatory tone during his daily remarks on the pandemic on Friday, telling Californians for the first time that the state may be only days away from lifting some of the rules but that residents needed to stay strong in the meantime.

‘If we can hold the line and continue to do good work ,we’ll get there much sooner,’ the Democratic governor said.

Despite lockdowns still being in place the amount of people driving in the state has steadily risen. And in Los Angeles the amount of people going for walks has also seen a rise of around 20 per cent since the end of April. 


Cases: 16,225 Deaths: 832 

Colorado’s governor says elective surgeries and retail curbside delivery can begin April 27. Hair salons, dental offices and tattoo shops can also reopen that date with restrictions. 

Since then the amount of people out on the roads has risen dramatically across the state as a whole. 

In Denver both the amount of people walking and driving is rising towards the baseline, jumping nearly 40 per cent from earlier lows. 

Other retail will be allowed to reopen from May 4 with social distancing restrictions. Large workplaces can reopen on May 4 at 50% capacity.   

Restaurants and bars are still limited to takeout only. 


Cases: 28,330 Deaths: 1,177

Georgia has so far gone farthest toward reopening its economy, with nearly every business in the state free to reopen on Friday. 

The move by Republican Governor Brian Kemp is being watched by the federal government and other states to see if the number of cases in Georgia surge. 

And since then the amount of people across the state on the roads has risen back to the baseline, from a low of -60 per cent in mid April.  


Cases: 58,505 Deaths: 2,559

Stay-at-home order through at least April 30 with a 10 person limit on gatherings

Nonessential businesses limited to minimum operations or remote work; bars and restaurants limited to take-out only. 

Despite that, the number of people on the roads across the state continues to rise, according the Apple cell phone data. It was nearly back to the baseline by the end of April. 

And it is a similar picture on a more localized level in Chicago, with more people out of the roads, either walking or driving by the beginning of May.  


Cases: 8,643 Deaths: 175 

No stay-at-home order but there’s a 10 person limit on gatherings.   

From May 1, restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity but no more than six people at one table.

Malls, fitness centers, libraries and retail stores can open at 50 percent capacity.

Horse and dog racing tracks can reopen with no spectators.

All other businesses remain closed through May 15.   


Cases: 1,153 Deaths: 56 

Maine is the first Northeastern state to partially reopen its economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The state has allowed some businesses – including drive-in theaters, barber shops and hair salons, dog groomers and car dealerships – from Friday. 

Current restrictions, including no gatherings of more than 10 people and 14 day quarantine for out of state visitors, still apply. 

The state currently has more than 1,000 infections and 56 deaths. 

Mobility trends since its partial reopening show a sharp increase in people out driving, which has steadied in recent days.  


Cases: 43,207 Deaths: 4,021

President Donald Trump added to the pressure on governors on Friday, urging Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, to compromise with activists who have protested her request to extend emergency powers to combat COVID-19.

‘The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal,’ Trump tweeted. 

But despite Michigans strict lockdown rules, its residents are still beginning to venture out more. 

Data shows the amount of people out on the roads has steadily been increasing since mid April. 

The number of people walking in Detriot has jumped past the baseline, back to the same figures seen in early March.  


Cases: 6,232 Deaths: 394  

In Minnesota, only businesses that don’t interact with the public can reopen from April 27. 

It includes those in industrial, manufacturing and office settings. Retail stores must remain closed. 

The state’s stay-at-home order still runs through to at least May 3.

Entertainment and performance venues remain closed and bars and restaurants are limited to take-out only. 

In Minneapolis the amount of people out walking and driving has reached levels not seen since early March.  


Cases: 7,441 Deaths: 291  

Ten more people have died of the novel coronavirus in Mississippi, bringing the state’s death toll to at least 291, state health officials announced Saturday.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 229 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, pushing the state’s total to 7,441. Nearly 400 new cases were reported statewide Friday — the state’s highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

As the number of cases continues to rise, the state’s health department is warning those who have been tested and still waiting for results to remain at home.

‘Stay in a specific room at home and avoid contact with other family members as much as possible,’ the department said. ‘These steps are important to prevent the possible spread of disease.’

Meanwhile, some cities are announcing the end of their mandatory curfews put in place as the pandemic grew.

Biloxi Mayor Andrew ‘Fofo’ Gilich announced Friday that the city’s nightly curfew — from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. — would end Sunday morning. Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said the citywide curfew ended at 5 p.m. Friday.

And in Hattiesburg, Mayor Toby Barker has signed an order requiring people entering businesses to wear a mask to help slow the virus’s spread.

‘The benefit of a mask is if everyone wears them we protect each other,’ Barker said.  

New York 

Cases: 319,449 Deaths: 24, 303

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday pushed back against what he called premature demands that he reopen the state, saying he knew people were struggling without jobs but that more understanding of the new coronavirus was needed.

Cuomo said he needed much more information on what the pandemic was doing in his state, the hardest hit by the disease, before he loosens restrictions aimed at curbing its spread.

‘Even when you are in uncharted waters, it doesn’t mean you proceed blindly,’ he said. ‘Use information to determine action – not emotions, not politics, not what people think or feel, but what we know in terms of facts.’ 

Based on the change in routing requests, more people are out driving in the state, back to levels seen in mid March. 

New York City has seen slight increases in routing requests for driving, walking and transit.  


Cases: 19,335 Deaths: 1,022 

Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday issued an appeal for Ohioans to stick together as the state slowly reopens, underscoring a point he has made multiple times in recent days: that it’s possible to restart the economy and keep people safe at the same time.

He said his message is embedded within the name of Friday’s new order extending the state shutdown until May 29, dubbed the ‘Stay Safe Ohio Order.’

‘We can stay safe, we can protect each other, we can protect our most vulnerable, and at the same time get people back to work,’ the Republican governor said.

While he laid out his reasoning, criticism is increasing from both sides of the debate over when to get back to normal. Some argue he’s wrecking the economy by refusing to let all businesses open immediately, while others contend he’s risking lives by moving too fast. 


Cases: 3,851 Deaths: 238 

Oklahoma went into its first weekend of a reopened economy during the coronavirus pandemic as residents were allowed to return to restaurants, mall and other stores.

State health officials reported eight new deaths and 103 new infections on Saturday, even as tempers flared in some parts of the state over restrictions still in place.

In Stillwater, city officials on Friday amended a local emergency declaration after businesses reported being threatened by customers who didn’t want to be forced to wear masks to enter.

The changes now make masks for optional customers instead of mandatory, although they are still strongly recommended. Employees are still required to wear them. 

South Carolina 

Cases: 6,489 Deaths: 267 

People in South Carolina flocked to state parks and beaches on Saturday as the state prepares to end its coronavirus stay-at-home order.

The parks were reopened Friday after more than a month, and many reported full parking lots. Picnic shelters, playgrounds and interpretive museums remain closed, and rangers required social distancing and other protective measures.

Webcams of beaches showed hundreds of people sunbathing, tossing footballs or playing in the surf along the Grand Strand on Saturday, a day after hotels along the beach were allowed to reopen for people with existing reservations. 


Cases: 31,140 Deaths: 865

Texas on Friday began a phased-in reopening of businesses shuttered more than a month ago, with restaurants, retail stores and malls allowed to open at 25% capacity. A second phase is planned for May 18 if infection rates continue to decline.

Across Texas, major employers were putting plans in place to bring staff back to their offices. 


Cases: 12,661 Deaths: 209  

Tennessee, which had already announced it would not be extending its stay-at-home order past April 30, has now laid out the state’s plan for lifting restrictions. 

Businesses in most counties will be allowed to reopen as early as April 27. 

Retail stores, which can reopen from April 29, and restaurants will operate with a 50 percent customer capacity. Many of Tennessee’s 56 parks will open on Friday. 

Businesses can expect temperature checks, enforced mask wearing and social distancing.  

Large cities including Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville can decide on their own when to reopen.