New Publication on Tribal Mobility and COVID-19

Published by Elizabeth Belding on

Our team recently had a paper titled “Tribal Mobility and COVID-19: An Urban-Rural Analysis in New Mexico” accepted into ACM HotMobile’21. Through a partnership with Skyhook, which provided us with extensive cellular device mobility data, we examined COVID-19 case growth in proximity to significant tribal presence by providing a novel quantification of human mobility patterns across tribal boundaries and between urban and rural regions at the geographical resolution of census block groups. In the paper, we use New Mexico as a case study due to its severe case infection rates; however, our methodologies generalize to other states. Results show that tribal mobility is uniquely high relative to baseline in counties with significant case counts. Furthermore, mobility patterns in tribal regions correlate more highly than any other region with case growth patterns in the surrounding county 13–16 days later. Our initial results present a quantification scheme for the underlying differences in human mobility between tribal/non-tribal and rural/urban regions with the goal of informing public health policy that meets the differing needs of these communities.

Change in mobility in New Mexico, pre- and post-COVID’19 stay-at-home order.