Governor Wolf is planning to move Chester County to Green status on June 26, but county residents are already back to making their usual number of trips, judging by their requests for directions from Apple.
Apple has released files containing data about the number of requests for driving directions from the Apple Maps application. The data is available for countries, states, and counties. It doesn’t contain any information about who requested the directions, or even how many people did. Rather, it is relative data, showing the difference between each day’s requests and the requests on an arbitrary initial date, which was January 13.
Requests for directions are not a perfect measure of how much people are driving, but they provide a good indication.
I plotted Apple’s numbers for Chester County in Excel. The results are in the graph below, and they clearly indicate the impact of the pandemic. The graph bounces up and down each week, with the highest numbers of direction requests on Friday and Saturday and the lowest number on Sunday. But broader trends are clearly visible too.
The impact of the pandemic is obvious, with requests for directions dropping below 40% of January levels on some days in March and April. But by May, the numbers were creeping up again. By the time the governor moved Chester County into the Yellow phase on June 5, direction requests were actually above their January levels. Perhaps people who had put off necessary trips were starting to take them, or perhaps people were just fed up with being restricted to their residences.
Whatever the reasons, Chester County residents are now travelling at roughly pre-pandemic rates. Depending on where they are going, that resumption of travel might well speed the spread of the virus, in our county and in many other places where residents have resumed travelling.