El Paso officials closed Scenic Drive indefinitely on April 4 to prevent people from congregating at Scenic Point. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

Movement around El Paso County has declined sharply in recent weeks as local government implemented emergency orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, according to mobility data released by Google.

The tech giant published mobility data from around the globe as a tool for public health officials in developing policies to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Google officials said in unveiling the tool. Click here for more information on how Google collected the data.

El Paso travel for retail and recreation purposes dropped by half between mid-Februrary and the end of March, the data show. Trips to parks declined by two-thirds.

The only increase in movement in El Paso was to go to residences, Google reported. That was true for communities across the country.

Reduced mobility is seen as an important measure of reduced social contacts, which health officials have said is the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

El Paso’s decline in mobility was generally on par with statewide numbers, though declines in visits to retail and recreation sites and parks declined more sharply in El Paso than across the state.

Neighboring Doña Ana County generally showed lesser declines in mobility than El Paso County, but its changes were similar to New Mexico statewide totals.

Google hasn’t yet provided mobility data on Ciudad Juárez but said it is looking to expand its reporting area in coming weeks. 

Here are the Google summaries for El Paso and other regional counties.

El Paso County

Doña Ana County

Bernalillo County (Albuquerque)

Bexar County (San Antonio)

Hidalgo County, Texas (McAllen)

Pima County, Arizona (Tucson)

Cover photo: El Paso officials indefinitely closed Scenic Drive on Saturday to prevent people from congregating at Scenic Point. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters.)

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.