The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the entire world to a standstill. As they contemplate recovery, authorities everywhere are trying to strike a balance between the impact of COVID-19 on public health versus its impact on the economy. As a first step in battling the pandemic, most communities instituted ‘lockdowns’, ‘social distancing’ and other limits to personal mobility. These are now being loosened to various degrees. The attached infographic from Visual Capitalist attempts to map the degree to which personal mobility and rates of infection are correlated.
In general, those countries that responded early and aggressively with limits on personal mobility, and whose levels of infection and mortality remained low as a result, now seem to be reaping the benefits of higher personal mobility and higher rates of economic recovery.
What the graphic does not show is the impact of comprehensive testing and contact tracing. Countries that had these in place early, such as South Korea, Taiwan or New Zealand, rapidly reduced the rate of spread and mortality, providing the social confidence for people to start moving and interacting again. Countries where this has not occurred – Canada being one – have displayed lower rates of mobility, suggesting a lack of confidence that things are normalizing. Even as government guidelines are being loosened, populations in countries like Germany or Switzerland are voluntarily curtailing their personal mobility.
It is important to note the infographic is a snapshot in time. COVID 19 will continue to move through the population and there is no guarantee that further waves will not result in higher rates of infection and mortality, requiring new government-mandated restrictions on mobility.