Memorial Day vs Labor Day in New York: The Long Weekend Effect

Memorial Day vs Labor Day in New York: The Long Weekend Effect
This is the third in a series of three posts where we use our Social Distancing Scoreboard, and Retail Insights tool, along with public health data and gubernatorial statements, to examine the effect that long weekends have on COVID-19 infection rates and the rate of recovery in different states. We use both historic and contemporary data points to tell our story: Foot traffic from public beach areas and Retail locations, daily COVID-19 infection rates, and KPIs for Average mobility rates and Non-essential visits, all measured on two milestone dates - May 26th and July 7th 2020 - each the first Tuesday after a holiday weekend celebrated since the pandemic began.

March 20th: Shutdown begins

On March 20th, the day that shutdown was announced, New York recorded 5,411 new daily cases of COVID-19, a full 28% of the nation’s 19,285 daily cases. New York also recorded a Social Distancing Scoreboard (SDS) grade of D, with a 25% to 40% reduction in Average mobility statewide.

Just more than 8 weeks later, on May 15th, reopening began. At the time, new COVID-19 cases have spiked more than 4x to 24,933 per day, and there has been a decline in social distancing, as witnessed by an F grade on the Social Distancing Scoreboard, and a rise in Average mobility to within 25% of 2019 levels. On that same day, Retail foot traffic is down 48% from 2019 levels but rising sharply heading into the long weekend with an increase of 26% over two weeks previous.

May 26th: Post-Memorial Day

Beach-area foot traffic over the long weekend in New York is  down just 15% versus 2019, and there is less than 55% reduction in Non-essential visits, and less than 25% reduction in average mobility. Despite this, the stay-at-home measures enacted 68 days previously that resulted in a near total cessation of commuting Workers in Manhattan and other urban areas in the state seem to be working.

There are now 1,072 new daily cases reported; that’s down 85% since six weeks previous, on Apr 14th, when there were 7,271 new daily cases. Retail foot traffic has recovered a little, but it is still down 45% versus 2019 with a 2% decrease over the previous 2 weeks, indicating a Slow recovery trend with no clear momentum. 

In the wake of the long weekend, reopening continues throughout the state. By a month later, on June 26th, five regions of New York have entered phase four, allowing gatherings of 50 people and indoor religious gatherings at up to 33% capacity.


July 7th: Post-Independence Day

By just after the July long weekend, New York seems to have settled into a pandemic-era groove. Though reduction in Non-essential visits and Average mobility remain stubbornly unchanged at less than 55% and less than 25% respectively, new cases of COVID-19 are clearly on the decline.

On this date, the state reports just 533 new daily cases. That’s less than half versus six weeks previous (1,072), and an extraordinary 98% reduction versus May 15th, the day reopening began. Retail foot traffic is  still down 29% vs 2019 with a 6% decrease over the previous 2 weeks, indicating a Stopped recovery trend with no clear momentum recovery trend) 

On July 8th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo cancels the New York State Fair and announces that the State will determine in early-August whether schools will reopen in the fall. By July 10th, shopping malls with improved HVAC systems are allowed to begin reopening in some regions.


Six weeks before Labor Day 2020

As of July 21st, Retail foot traffic in New York state remains down 29% vs 2019, though there has been slow growth of about 1% over the previous two weeks. The trendline for new cases is clearly moving down, from a high 13,343 in mid-April, to an average of less than 700 per day in the last week -- now little more than 1% of the nation’s 66,321 daily average, compared to 28% the day shutdown began.

By the numbers and in comparison to their peers in Texas and California, New York state has done a superior job of flattening the COVID-19 infection rate and rolling out a staged, sustainable economic recovery plan. Common sense dictates that staying-the-course will result in more positive outcomes.

If you are interested in a deeper dive into this topic, join our upcoming Neighborhood Insights webinar to learn more. Register now and submit your questions to us directly!

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