Some parks in US see spike in visitors despite pandemic 

LSU Lakes

Most of the country is adhering to stay-at-home and social distancing orders, with the exception of going to public parks. While some are seeing fewer visitors, others have experienced a surge in recent weeks, according to new data from Google analyzing cellphone location information.

In Louisiana, park visits dropped 18%, but in neighboring Mississippi, park visits increased by 27% since the onset of the pandemic. 

As Fast Company reports, people’s activity nationwide, measured by “visits and length of stay,” is up 12% at residential locations like neighborhoods and apartment buildings, while it has significantly dropped at retailers, museums and restaurants. Even groceries and pharmacies, which have remained open as essential businesses, have fewer visits, down 16% in Louisiana and 22% nationwide. 

The shifts are relative to a baseline measured between January 3 and February 6. The percent changes in the report were based on visits as recently as last Sunday.

Park visits dropped nearly 50% in New York, and more than 25% in Texas and 38% in Nevada. But some states saw park visits more than double. South Dakota and Ohio spiked 126% and 117%, respectively, while Utah saw a rise of 26%. 

Google emphasizes that the numbers don’t reveal where any particular user went, nor do they include raw counts for how many people in different jurisdictions visited particular types of locations—only percentage changes are reflected. See Google’s data here, and Fast Company’s analysis here.  

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