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Kent County ranks among best in Midwest for staying home over Thanksgiving

Data shows residents had 76% reduction in contacts
Posted at 2:50 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 17:25:16-05

KENT CO., Mich — The Kent County Health Department is applauding the community for 'staying home' over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The county seeing a 76% reduction in ‘contacts’ during the normally busy time for gatherings and travel.

It’s one of the best rates in the Midwest according to data reported in a New York Times article.

The department said that it’s encouraging news as we head into Christmas and New Years.

Using cell phone location data from more than 15 million Americans, intelligence firm Cuebiq reports that 93% of U.S. counties saw ‘fewer contacts’ this Thanksgiving than in 2019.

The firm defines ‘contact’ as two phones coming within 50 feet of one another for at least two minutes within a five minute period, excluding devices in your own household.

Using that data, is appears 76% of residents in Kent County essentially stayed home over the holiday.

Brian Hartl, Epidemiology Supervisor for the Kent County Health Department said the data from the county is encouraging.

“I don’t know if I’m surprised, but I’m pleased to see those numbers,” he said.

Hartl is also pleased that the county didn’t see a large spike in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday as health experts anticipated.

He said, “Our cases since November 18th have just kind of gradually come down the entire time.”

Hartl attributes the positive numbers to people staying put for the holidays.

“I think it really speaks to how people of Kent County and West Michigan have really heeded the message of what we need to do to bring these numbers down, by not traveling, continuing to mask, and social distance,” said Hartl.

He added that the report is a great visual way to see that what Kent County is doing, is working.

“The last few days, we’ve seen our daily counts of new cases that are coming in, they are all below 200,” said Hartl, “We do see our hospitalization coming down as well, so everything is looking good except we are still unfortunately seeing people pass away.”

Even so Hartl, said the numbers aren’t a greenlight to resume holidays as normal and hopes we carry over the Thanksgiving mindset into Christmas and New Years.

He said, “I really want to stress the fact that we are in this place because people have taken those precautions and not gathered. We want to keep those numbers continuing to go down, so we can see some of those other components start back up, like the restaurants, like bars, things like that. So we really need people to continue to do what they’ve done over the past couple of weeks to maintain that momentum.”

Michigan hit both ends of the spectrum for reducing ‘contacts’ over Thanksgiving. Wayne County ranked the best in the Midwest with an 84% percent reduction. Meantime, Alcona County ranked the worst, with a 0% reduction.