COVID-19 Research

Our expectations for the region’s economy, transportation system, and housing needs have shifted since initial impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic surfaced in March 2020. Our research and data experts analyzed shifts in travel, employment, regional disparities, and housing cost, among other measures, to help gauge and potentially adjust plans to respond to the longer-term impact the pandemic might have on the Twin Cities.

Wastewater surveillance tracks the prevalence of COVID-19 infection rates

Metropolitan Council Environmental Services is contributing wastewater samples to three research studies being conducted by academic institutions and/or their private partners. The goal of the studies is to determine if the amount of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in wastewater can be reliably measured and related to the prevalence of COVID-19 cases among residents in a wastewater treatment plant’s service area.

Screengrab of one of the economic impact charts.

COVID-19 economic impacts

To put the economic dynamic in context, and to promote understanding of the social and economic impacts, our research team is analzed the likely effects of early employment and income losses. Key measures include unemployment by industry and occupation, changes in poverty, as well as disparities by race and ethnicity in these measures.

Three vehicles on a multi-lane highway.

Metro area travel

An analysis of over 1,000 freeway traffic monitoring stations showed that Minnesotans reduced their travel steadily in the days following the first COVID-19 case in Minnesota, but that traffic levels have slowly rebounded since their lowest point in early April 2020.

Graphic of light rail and a vehicle in a city.

Travel Behavior Inventory (TBI)

We are tapping into a panel of participants from the 2019 household survey to study the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. This follow-up survey will help explain how COVID-19 has changed and is changing travel behavior by comparing current behaviors to participants’ behavior in 2018-2019.