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Louisiana isn't staying home after state order, data says

In Orleans Parish, there are promising signs. The city, which was first put under a stay at home order two days before the statewide mandate, has an A ranking.
Credit: Unacast

NEW ORLEANS — According to data compiled from anonymous cell phone data, Orleans Parish residents are effectively social distancing, staying at home rather than going out and risking the spread of COVID-19. 

Other parishes have a long way to go, the data suggests. 

The interactive dashboard, which was referenced Friday by Gov. John Bel Edwards during a press conference, was developed by data analytical company Unacast. 

It rates states and parishes (counties in other states) from A-F based on how often people in those areas go to non-essential stops. 

Edwards said his administration was using the tool to determine how effective his Stay at Home order has been throughout the state. 

In Orleans Parish, there are promising signs. The city, which was first put under a stay at home order by Mayor LaToya Cantrell two days before the statewide mandate, holds an A ranking, meaning non-essential travel is down by more than 70%. 

According to the dashboard, people in New Orleans stayed close to home even when going out for essentials such as food or medicine. 

But other parishes don't have the same outlook. A vast majority of parishes are ranked either D or F, meaning that social distancing measures aren't being used. 

Even Jefferson Parish, which Edwards referenced alongside Orleans, has fallen in the rankings. It had fallen – in the short time between when Edwards was giving an update to when WWL-TV checked the dashboard after his press conference – from a B to a C, indicating that more people were traveling for non-essential purposes. 

As of Friday afternoon, the last time the data was updated, only eight parishes made the cut above a C- score. None other than Orleans parish scored higher than a C. 

Cell phone data compiled by Google shows similar trends. Almost all parishes reported decreases in the amount of traveling, but most of the dropoff appears to be from people not going to recreational activities and stores, many of which are shuttered because of the virus or have been ordered to remain closed. 

Orleans Parish's data breakdown showed a decrease in travel to work, stores, parks and transit centers. Residential travel around neighborhoods increased by a small amount, echoing the trend across the board of more people walking or driving in their neighborhoods. 

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