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Getting out while staying in: Park use decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially where park availability was low

Author

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  • Curtis, David Stuart

    (University of Utah)

  • Rigolon, Alessandro
  • Schmalz, Dorothy L
  • Brown, Barbara

Abstract

The spread of COVID-19 altered use of public spaces, such as parks, with potential effects on human health and well-being. Little is known about park use during the pandemic, how local features (e.g, park availability) influence use, and whether park visits accelerate COVID-19 spread. Using weekly panel data for 620 U.S. counties, we show park visits decreased by 10% beginning March 15, and by 17-35% through May 9, 2020. Net of weekly sample trends, park visits decreased by 2.3% when stay-at-home orders were in effect, yet increased by 8.3% after school closures and 4.1% after business closures. Park visits decreased less during the pandemic in metropolitan counties or where park availability was high. Higher park visits were weakly associated with COVID-19 case growth rate but not incidence. Thus, parks may serve as alternatives for recreation when schools and businesses close, especially where parks are available, with no-to-little influence on COVID-19 spread.

Suggested Citation

  • Curtis, David Stuart & Rigolon, Alessandro & Schmalz, Dorothy L & Brown, Barbara, 2020. "Getting out while staying in: Park use decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially where park availability was low," SocArXiv 9xzgf, Center for Open Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:osf:socarx:9xzgf
    DOI: 10.31219/osf.io/9xzgf
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