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Brazilians return to work, but how many stayed away in the first place?

. Jul 31, 2020
Brazilians return to work but how many stayed away in the first place? Photo: RafaPress/Shutterstock

The Brazilian population appears to be giving up on social isolation, even though the curve of coronavirus cases and deaths has shown no convincing signs of decreasing. Using data from Google and Brasil.io, The Brazilian Report carried out a survey on the behavior of the population at this stage of the pandemic, while also showing the spread of the disease in each of Brazil’s 27 states. Millions are going back to work — but the virus continues to spread in most places.

</p> <h2>Return to work</h2> <p>Brazil&#8217;s first confirmed coronavirus case came on February 26, but it took until March 12 — when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 pandemic — for practical isolation measures to be brought in.</p> <p>Though the volume of movement of people around workplaces dropped almost immediately after the WHO announcement, Brazil <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/06/12/lack-of-data-undermines-social-isolation-in-sao-paulo/">never quite reached the levels of isolation</a> seen in other countries. Only a few Brazilian states saw movement around workplaces fall to less than half of the average pre-pandemic level, according to Google data.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3347503" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/3347503/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p>Seven-day rolling averages of movement at work show that the highest level of initial isolation happened in the southern state of Santa Catarina, where the circulation of people around places of business dropped 59 percent in late March. But this was quickly reversed. Meanwhile, full-scale lockdowns were seen in the states of <a href="https://noticias.uol.com.br/saude/ultimas-noticias/redacao/2020/05/09/saiba-onde-ja-foi-decretado-o-lockdown-no-brasil.htm">Amapá, Maranhão, and Pará</a>, but the major centers of cases and deaths — such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — never imposed such comprehensive measures.</p> <p>On July 25, movement in and around workplaces was between 22 and 1 percent below non-pandemic levels in all states. All over Brazil, the circulation of people at places of business has increased by more than 30 percentage points since the end of March.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>Coronavirus infection and death curves</h2> <p>When we look at the pandemic situation in Brazil as a whole, we can see a plateau effect in new cases and deaths. The rate of infection has not decreased, but neither has it increased further. However, as is necessary for a country the size of Brazil, a closer look at regional data highlights an array of different dynamics and trends. Daily new cases and deaths are falling in some areas, though authorities are wary of a second wave. Meanwhile, in many inland parts of the country that have yet to feel the brunt of the pandemic, cases are rising continuously.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3347626" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/3347626/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3347691" data-url="https://flo.uri.sh/visualisation/3347691/embed"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p>All of these figures are calculated in accordance with the size of the local population. Furthermore, a 7-day rolling average is used to soften significant shifts which may be caused by outlying events, such as the consistently low reporting on weekends.</p> <p>However, even when using a rolling average, states with small populations remain subject to dramatic changes. In the northern states of Amapá and Roraima, for instance, populations are so small that well over half live in their respective state capitals. Delayed counting may also have an impact, as appears to have been the case in Roraima, where 70 deaths were recorded over just two days at the end of June, more than the previous two weeks combined.</p> <p>The base data for the number of cases and deaths was collected by <a href="https://brasil.io/">Brasil.io</a>.

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José Roberto Castro

José Roberto covers politics and economics and is finishing a Master's Degree in Media and Globalization. Previously, he worked at Nexo Jornal and O Estado de S. Paulo.

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