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Big Brother during the coronavirus crisis: GPS data shows which Oregonians are following ‘social-distancing initiatives’

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Virus Outbreak Oregon

A marquee outside the Lake Theater & Café in Lake Oswego offers advice on how not to spread germs on March 17, 2020.

PORTLAND — Oregon has a lot of wide-open spaces. The state takes up some 98,000 square miles and has only 4 million people wandering around inside it.

That should give most Oregonians plenty of room to maintain appropriate distance from one another as the novel coronavirus bears down on the state. But the GPS-location data company Unacast found that, if Oregonians are keeping 6 feet from each other as recommended, they’re not doing it by staying put.

Unacast has spent its time lately digging into the apps on our phones and figuring how much less we have been moving about than usual. It dropped its data analysis into a “Social Distancing Scorecard” that indicates, The Washington Post reported, which Americans across the country “are changing behavior at the urging of health officials.”

Yes, Big Brother is watching — in this case, at least, to provide organizations and public officials “with an understanding of the efficacy of social-distancing initiatives.”

Unacast gave each state a letter grade on its recent performance. Oregon earned a C. This is worse than it appears. Rather than being “average,” it puts Oregon in the “Bottom 5 States” in the social-distancing scorecard. Idaho and Montana received Ds and Wyoming an F.

Only one county in Oregon received an A grade — Wheeler. Neighbors Crook and Deschutes scored Cs. The rest of the eastern counties were given failing grades.

Oregon counties with relatively dense populations actually did better than those with lots of elbow room. (This can be a little misleading: Again, Unacast tracked the change in “average mobility.” An A is a >40% decrease, a D is a 10%-20% decrease.) Washington, the Oregon county hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and Multnomah both received Bs (30%-40% decrease). The northern counties on the coast all earned Ds.

The states that have decreased their mobility the most, in case you’re wondering: Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Washington, D.C., despite Sen. Rand Paul’s inveterate socializing, rounds out the Top 5.

What does this all tell us? Maybe not a whole lot about how people in your county and state are doing with social distancing. But it does reinforce just how much we are all under Big Tech’s watchful eye.

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This article was originally published by The Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue.

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According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.

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You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

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At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.