American travel now exceeding pre-pandemic levels as COVID-19 cases fall sharply

by Joel Abbott · Mar 12th, 2021 12:10 pm

Last Updated Mar 13th, 2021 at 5:58 pm

Americans are now taking more daily trips than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to cellphone data that show when individuals move more than a mile from home.

The revelation comes from researchers at the University of Maryland who looked at the data. According to them, daily travel rebounded to 90% of pre-pandemic levels as early as last summer, and then decreased slightly in the fall and winter when cases began sharply rising.

By mid-February, however, such daily trips were exceeding the pre-pandemic levels, despite ongoing lockdown orders. In the first week of March, travel was up 13.6% over the same week in March 2020, just one week before lockdown measures began.

"We've been through a long winter and a lot of [COVID-19] cases," said lead researcher Mofeng Yang. "People might want to escape from their homes."

COVID-19 cases have sharply declined in recent weeks and nearly 20% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which the researchers said was likely a factor in addition to the usual spring fever.

Seattle-area data firm Inrix has also estimated that the number of miles driven daily – excluding commercial truck drivers – is about 90% of what it was before the pandemic.


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