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UAA survey sheds light on behavior relating to coronavirus

(KALB)
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 8:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Surveys that were taken by researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage are tracking the behavior of residents to learn more about the spread of coronavirus.

A collaboration between UAA’s College of Health Division of Population Health Services, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Social and Economic Research found that residents have been seeing more of those outside of their household and have been increasing their mobility.

A survey of Anchorage residents taken between May 6-10 revealed that 83 percent of people did not have physical contact with anyone outside of their household. A panel survey of residents taken between June 2-4 revealed that 64 percent of people did not have physical contact with people outside of their household.

The same surveys revealed that 36 percent of respondents stayed at least six feet away from those outside of their household back in May. That statistic went down to 13 percent in early June.

“Ever since we started this survey, most of the folks in Anchorage are reporting that they’re wearing masks when they go out,” said Dr. Gabriel Garcia, a professor of public health at UAA. “So that’s good news. That hasn’t significantly changed. What has significantly changed is that more of us are going outside. More of us are not necessarily physically distancing ourselves. And so I think the moral of the story here is that when we’re going outside, especially when we’re interacting with people outside of our household, it’s important to keep wearing masks.”

Another report that assessed cellphone data from anonymous users revealed that mobility has gone up, which has a connection to the spike in cases.

”People are mixing less now in those countries that have had good success in controlling the epidemic,” said Dr. Tom Henessy, an infectious disease epidemiologist with UAA. “In the United States, mixing social mixing has gone back pretty much to baseline. And I think that correlates very closely with the increase in the transmission that we’re seeing all across the Sun Belt and the increase that we’ve seen in Alaska. People are going back and carrying on with normal social activities.”

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