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LA and Houston still seeing high foot traffic even as COVID-19 surges

The number of people out walking and driving in Los Angeles and Houston is currently still at pre-pandemic levels despite California and Texas seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

Data from Apple’s COVID-19 mobility trends report, which tracks movement based on cellphone input, shows the number of people moving about in the hotspot states has not decreased even after seeing an uptick in infections in early June.

Meanwhile, movement in Phoenix and Miami – two cities in the hotspot states of Arizona and Florida – has dropped off slightly this month following a huge resurgence of coronavirus cases across the Sunbelt states. 

The data shows that all four cities saw the number of people out walking or driving drop off significantly in mid-March when the virus first picked up and stay-at-home orders were put in place across most of the country.

Movement has been gradually increasing ever since April when lockdown restrictions were eased across California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. 

The data also shows spikes that coincided with Memorial Day weekend and George Floyd protests held in late May and into early June. 

But as the number of cases started spiking in these areas, only Phoenix and Miami have dropped compared to a baseline from January.

Walking is down 14 percent in Miami and four percent in Phoenix. In comparison, walking is currently up six percent in Los Angeles and up 19 percent in Houston. 

Texas Govenor Greg Abbott scaled back the state’s reopening measures in late June by ordering all bars to close in a bid to deal with the surging infections. 

Last week, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom rolled back some of his reopening plans for the state by announcing the closure of some indoor venues that attract crowds such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters, zoos and museums.  

It comes as Texas set one-day records for increases in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in the state on Wednesday and California overtook New York to have the most infections in the United States. 

Texas, which reported 197 deaths and 10,893 hospitalizations, has been one of the hardest hit by the resurgent coronavirus.  

California on Wednesday saw a record 12,807 spike in new daily cases – the biggest single-day increase since the pandemic started. 

The total number of infections in the most populous US state is now at 413,579 and has now surpassed original epicenter New York for the most cases. 

If California were a country, it would rank fifth in the world for total coronavirus cases behind only the United States, Brazil, India and Russia. 

Nationwide deaths have topped 1,000 twice this week, which hasn’t been seen since May. 

There has been an uptick in deaths, on average, across the US since the beginning of July after hotspot states including Florida, Texas, Arizona and California saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations. 

Nearly four million people have tested positive for the virus across the US and more than 143,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. 

Coronavirus deaths are now rising in 23 states and the country’s three most populous states, Florida, Texas and California, top the list of 44 states where cases are increasing. 

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