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Report: Gwinnett among U.S. counties where people traveled most as coronavirus ramped up

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The county has since issued a stay-at-home order and threatened to punish violators with fines and jail time

Two yellow water towers in Gwinnett County. The one on the left shows text reading “Success lives here,” and the one on the right reads “Gwinnett is great.
Gwinnett, like other counties, is now liable to punish people who don’t stay at home.
The Lint Screen/file

Like many U.S. communities, Gwinnett County has now enacted stay-at-home policies in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe.

But before Saturday, when the order was first issued, Gwinnett was among the U.S. counties where people were still traveling the most, at least as of Friday, according to a New York Times analysis of cellphone data.

“Stay-at-home orders have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast, and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates,” the report says.

Before Gwinnett officials issued the stay-at-home rules—and subsequently threatened to punish violators—residents were averaging about 2.5 miles of travel on Friday.

A chart shows which U.S. counties had people traveling the most as of Friday. The New York Times

“Disease experts who reviewed the results say those reductions in travel—to less than a mile a day, on average, from about five miles—may be enough to sharply curb the spread of the coronavirus in those regions, at least for now,” the report says.

Between February 28 and March 27—the day before Gwinnett issued the order—U.S. counties with stay-at-home orders witnessed travel drop by an average of roughly 84 percent, per the Times research.

Those who did not have such orders, including Gwinnett, saw travel dampen by about 67 percent in the same timeframe.

As of Monday, there were 178 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gwinnett County, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and per the Georgia Department of Public Health, 303 cases as of last evening.

On Thursday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statewide stay-at-home order, effective today at 6 p.m.