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Dallas County COVID Numbers May Be Declining, But So Is Social Distancing

A city of Dallas worker wears a mask.
LM Otero
Associated Press

Coronavirus case numbers in Dallas County seem to be on the decline. Last week the county reported its lowest daily numbers since June 1. But social distancing is also declining, which could reverse that trend.

Dr. Brian Fisher is a researcher with the Policy Lab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which tracks social distancing in counties using cell phone data.

He says at the start of the pandemic, trips to non-essential businesses in Dallas County dropped by about 70%. Now, trips to places like hair salons and shopping malls are increasing.

"Which is to say that people are still not going to non-essential businesses as much as they did before the pandemic. So that's a good thing," Fisher said. "But it's not as good as we see social distancing in other parts of the country."

Dallas is doing better than surrounding counties, though.

"This virus, of course, doesn't know the county borders and is not going to stop transmitting from one person and the next, just because there's a border there," Fisher said. "So even if Dallas is doing a decent job, they also need those surrounding counties to help them out."

Fisher says if socially distancing in Dallas County doesn't improve, he predicts daily case numbers could exceed 800 again in the next two to four weeks.

Rebekah Morr is KERA's All Things Considered newscaster and producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.