Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

Google Tackles Quarantine Quandary

by Roger Lanctot | Sep 28, 2020

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

-- Robert Burns, "To a louse"

I live in a COVID-19 ghetto. Due to the recent blunder I made flying from the state of Virginia to the state of Connecticut without doing my research into extant travel restrictions and quarantines I learned how residents of New England currently view residents of Virginia - as potential sources of infection that need to quarantine upon entering the state. There are only 11 states with existing travel restrictions - down from a high of 25 at the peak of the pandemic - but many restrictions remain in place and they change on a weekly basis.

The prospect of coping with these restrictions while traveling is daunting, but Google has cleverly stepped in with an enhancement to Google Maps - a data layer that conveys the latest information from multiple sources (Johns Hopkins' COVID-19 dashboard, The New York Times, and Wikipedia) on the spread of COVID-19 in states, counties, and some cities.

Toggling on the “COVID” layer in the app will show the seven-day average number of confirmed cases in each area per 100,000 people, according to a report in The Verge. "Areas of the map will be color-coded based on case rate, and a label shows if cases are going up or down. The feature will roll out on Android and iOS this week."

Google Maps already identifies drive-through testing locations as well as alerts regarding face-covering mandates on public transportation and takeout options at local restaurants. The move by Google is both clever and prescient as guidelines are changing on a daily basis. An example of recent updates from the Website include:

  • September 23, 2020: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. Travelers from high-risk states must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico. Michigan and Hawaii were moved from high-risk to low-risk, exempting travelers from those states from the quarantine requirement.
  • September 23, 2020: Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that Massachusetts travelers entering Maine would no longer be required to test negative or quarantine for 14 days.
  • September 22, 2020: Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming had been added to the tristate quarantine list.[3]
  • September 19, 2020: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Wyoming from its list of low-risk states. Travelers from Wyoming must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts.

This type of dynamic information is ideally suited to Google's in-map integration. It would arguably be useful to business and vacation travellers who have opted for automotive over airline transportation. Just as Waze may identify speed traps, the future may bring roadside checks at border crossings of out of state travellers for infection test status and quarantine plans.

Vermont goes so far as to introduce something of a quarantine pass to those arriving in the state - from outside the state - in their own personal vehicle:

Residents of other states who live in counties across the Northeast including New England; New York; Pennsylvania; Ohio; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; and West Virginia that have a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (defined as less than 400 active cases per million) may enter the state for leisure travel without quarantining if they do so in a personal vehicle.

I am sure I am not alone in believing that travel by automobile from one "safe" zone to another, such as Vermont perhaps, ought to be so exempted from quarantine. But it is a little crazy. Still, live, in-vehicle alerts to varying local COVID-19 regulations and restrictions are a useful tool worthy of integration into every built-in navigation system.

I am still nursing the injury to my Virginia pride inflicted by most of New England. For some reason, these snooty Northeast states have seen fit to welcome Maryland into the fold of the COVID-free - but we Virginians are still left out in the cold.

Of course, matters are even worse internationally. CNN has published a complete roster of countries currently welcoming travellers from the U.S. - including Brazil and Belarus.

No alt text provided for this image


Residents of Virginia and a host of so-called "red states" (for their inclination to vote Republican and, now, for their higher rates of COVID-19 infection) represent a kind of COVID-19 ghetto in the U.S. As the impact of the coronavirus lingers, these locations will become increasingly unattractive to travellers, businesspeople, perhaps even investors.

States that have demonstrated an ability to rally their populations to adopt COVID-19 countermeasures and beat back infections and hospitalizations will be better able to open and thrive in the post-pandemic economy. Contrary to some public messaging, COVID-19 will never go away. Clever coping - of the kind manifest in Google's application - is the key to survival.

Previous Post: V2X Overcoming Barriers to Adoption | Next Post: Waze Wins with Traffic Porn

Let's talk

Now you know a little about us, get in touch and tell us what your business problem is.
Inquiry / Message:

please enter captcha from left