MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Metropolitan Council researchers report that travel across Minnesota’s freeways has declined by more than 70% since the first reported COVID-19 case in the state early March.

After analyzing more than 1,000 freeway traffic monitoring stations across the state, the Met Council says “Minnesotans are doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by reducing travel and staying home.”

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Using traffic data from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Met Council researchers evaluated the effect of recent physical distancing efforts on regional and statewide travel.

(credit: Metropolitan Council)

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The graph represents the daily relative decrease in travel over time across the Twin Cities metro area’s freeways after March 1. Points that fall below the zero-line represent decreases in travel compared to typical travel on that particular day previous years. View an interactive application of this data.

The graph’s data shows travel decreased over time specifically as state officials took action to support physical distancing efforts. For example, on March 18, Gov. Tim Walz added several more types of businesses to the list of those that must temporarily close in Minnesota during the outbreak, travel decreased by an additional 7% and a 35% decrease overall.

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The Met Council says this data will help inform statewide models of disease transmission, and help policymakers evaluate the impact of their actions on physical distancing efforts. Researchers will continue to update these figures as the situation progresses.