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Data: Descartes Labs; Chart: Axios Visuals

The latest sign that driving is coming back? Analysis from the data science company Descartes Labs shows substantial increases in mobility in recent weeks after driving reached its pandemic-related trough about a month ago.

Why it matters: The revival of travel in the U.S. and worldwide will affect how quickly oil demand recovers from its unprecedented collapse (if it ever indeed comes all the way back).

How it works: Descartes Labs has created a "mobility index" based on geolocation data derived from phones and other devices reporting throughout the day, calculating the maximum distance moved from the first reported location.

What they found: Co-founder Mike Warren tells me that they're seeing increases nationwide.

  • "In mid-March, the drop in mobility seems to have started before a lot of the states had implemented the stay-at-home orders and closures, so I'm not surprised that people would be deciding for themselves what is safe to do," he said.

What we don't know: "We can't tell from the data if people went for a drive by themselves to get out of the house, or if they went to join some gathering of people, which would have very different consequences for the spread of COVID-19," Warren says.

The big picture: Descartes Labs says their far more granular localized and state-level analysis can help combat the pandemic.

  • "We're getting a lot of positive feedback from local health agencies who are using these data combined with their own local knowledge to understand the dynamics of the disease better," Warren adds.

Go deeper: Americans are starting to drive again, but still staying away from public transit

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Coronavirus hotspots keep improving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. continues to slow, driven by significant progress in the South and Southwest, where cases skyrocketed earlier this summer.

Why it matters: All of the second-order controversies consuming the U.S. — like whether to open schools for in-person instruction — would be easier to resolve if we could get the virus under control and keep it there.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Aug 20, 2020 - Health

Schools soldier through coronavirus outbreaks

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Only a few weeks into the school year, hundreds of students, teachers and staff across the country have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or sent home to quarantine after being exposed.

Why it matters: For now, most of the affected schools are opting to play coronavirus whack-a-mole, providing a complicated alternative to in-person and virtual learning.