Google Data Shows McLean County Residents Are Staying Home — Except For Parks | WGLT

Google Data Shows McLean County Residents Are Staying Home — Except For Parks

Apr 6, 2020

McLean County residents are staying home about as well as everyone else in Illinois—but we’re apparently using parks more than others across the state.

That’s according to a new batch of Google location data that’s tracking how people have changed their movements during the coronavirus pandemic. Google says the Community Mobility Reports were created with “aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the Location History setting, which is off by default.”

Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order began March 21. As of March 29, McLean County residents had cut their retail and recreation visits by 53% and grocery and pharmacy visits by 28%, according to the Google data. That’s about the same as statewide declines against baseline levels.

However, McLean County residents have slightly increased their use of parks, dog parks, plazas, and public gardens, by about 1%, according to Google. That’s in contrast to the statewide trend, which saw a 29% decline in parks usage, Google reported.

Bloomington-Normal parks remain open, although playgrounds are closed. Constitution Trail, a 40-mile linear park of sorts, also remains open (and quite busy).

One big caveat: The data is imperfect. It only represents people who’ve not turned off their Location History setting on their devices.

One example of that imperfection: Google data shows a 37% decline in visits to “transit stations,” such as bus stops. That’s less than the 55% decline statewide. However, Connect Transit (Bloomington-Normal’s transit system) officials said last week it’s actually seen a 60-65% loss in ridership.

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