TAMPA, Fla. -- USF Researchers released months of raw data on how the behavior of Tampa Bay residents led to the spread of COVID-19.

“The best predictor of what will happen to increases and decreases across our region in daily hospital admissions comes directly from the mobility of the people in our region," said Dr. Matthew Mullarkey, a USF researcher.

What You Need To Know

  • USF researchers collected data on the spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area

  • Researchers used cellphones to help pinpoint the spread of the virus

  • Virus started to spread as daily travel increased

  • More Hillsborough County News

Using a series of charts and graphs, Mullarkey, the lead researcher on the Project Aspect report, showed our response to Coronavirus presence in the area.

Data showed many of us stayed home and worked remotely long before stay-at-home orders were in place.

But after the phase one reopening went into effect, daily travel spiked by 233 percent and the virus took hold at a greater rate.

“Every little increase in mobility is having an accelerated increase in the number of admissions and the rate of increase in hospital admissions has grown dramatically,” he said.

This data is unique in that it comes from cell phones that were in use in and around Tampa Bay.

Researchers were able to see firsthand how many areas people traveled to and how densely populated those areas are.

COVID-related hospitalizations also provided insight into how widespread the virus became. The darker areas on a map of the Bay Area’s hospitals showed the highest increase in COVID-19 admissions.

“It started with a disease that we thought was primarily a concern for people over 65 but it’s clear it’s a disease that’s much more impactful,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, a USF researcher.

Experts continue to recommend the use of face coverings or masks, washing of hands, and limited daily travel.