- The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has killed 4,300 people worldwide and infected more than 121,000, according to recent totals.
- The US has reported more than 1,000 cases, and 31 deaths.
- Many of the US cases have been near the tech hubs of Seattle and Silicon Valley on the West Coast.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic. The virus has disrupted travel worldwide, leading to flight cancellations, quarantines, and other breakdowns in movement. The US has reported at least 1,080 cases, many of them in Washington and California, which are also home to major tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Apple. Since the virus started spreading in the US, these companies have implemented work-from-home measures and banned nonessential travel.
Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Airbnb, and Microsoft are some of the companies asking employees to work remotely as the virus spreads. Santa Clara County, home to Apple, Google, and Intel, banned all large gatherings. Traffic around Silicon Valley and Seattle is notoriously packed, so commuters took notice when it lightened considerably as more companies implemented work from home policies. One analysis found minor overall changes in traffic patterns in the Bay Area, but major shifts in Seattle, which saw as high as 30% decreases in rush hour traffic last week over a typical week.
Here’s what it looks like.
One Washington resident posted about how empty Seattle’s streets near Amazon’s headquarters look compared to an average day.
Seattle last Thursday. I work by Amazon Offices in SLU, normally traffic cops and lots of cars and people. My commute now is down a flight of stairs. pic.twitter.com/TtdD0uv5Eg
— Your cool Aunt (@Tdryden11) March 10, 2020
This photo shows nearly empty streets around Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, including its iconic biospheres.
The same day that Amazon told Seattle employees not to come to work, it announced that an employee in the area tested positive for COVID-19.
Washington state has had the most deaths in the US so far.
On February 29, Washington declared a state of emergency. Now, gatherings of more than 250 people are banned.
Source: Business Insider
San Francisco’s BART was nearly empty during rush hour, according to one user.
— Zeenat Subedar (@zeenatsubedar) March 10, 2020
Another posted an image from Google Maps showing traffic across Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Green areas are for well moving traffic, while red means congestion.
Surest sign yet that shit's getting real. This is rush-hour traffic today in the Bay Area. pic.twitter.com/Pp1siuN3LQ
— Kevin Fox is hopeful ???????? (@kfury) March 11, 2020
Another called it the “Covid19 commute,” after COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Aside from the Bay Bridge typical slowing… I don’t recall seeing this much green at 7 o’clock on a weekday. Is this Covid19 commute? pic.twitter.com/V6GC8e6MSn
— Rob Mayeda (@RobMayeda) March 10, 2020
Commuters on Twitter said that traffic is typically bumper-to-bumper throughout the region, like in this image of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from 2015.
Since COVID-19 has spread, a person in Palo Alto noted how much traffic had decreased as Facebook mandated work from home.
— Omar (@OmarAAnsari) March 9, 2020
See a complete list of tech companies encouraging or requiring remote work here.
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