Density and Distancing in the COVID-19 Pandemic
41 Pages Posted: 11 May 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: May 10, 2020
We study the evolution of social distancing behaviors across the U.S. on the number and density of individuals in public places and businesses, and show that the latter has decreased significantly less than overall foot traffic. Breaking this effect down by category of place, we find a significantly large gap caused by sustained higher relative density in visits to religious places, and in particular due to differential drop-off in visits by destination size: physically larger religious places experienced a much larger drop-off in visits than smaller, leading to a comparatively higher density of people relative to the overall visits change. Inspecting this effect across regions, we find that this phenomenon is present to some degree in almost all states, but appears to be much smaller in Sun Belt states, such as Florida.
Keywords: COVID-19, Geolocation data, Social Distancing
JEL Classification: C55, H7, I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation