DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new report analyzing social interactions in North Texas through cell phone data found a direct correlation to the surge of positive COVID-19 cases.

According to TOP Data, most people typically had about six social interactions a day outside their home.

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“It’s not walking by someone at the mall and just passing quickly,” said Ben Kaplan, CEO of TOP Data. “It’s the extended interaction, which is really what is most at risk for COVID-18 transmission.”

Cell phone GPS information showed that number dropped to just two a day in most states when the country shut down.

In North Texas, people were interacting at only about 20% of what they normally do, which was enough to slow the spread of the virus.

“But as the phase three reopening started, that number increased to close to 50% of what’s normal,” Kaplan said. “And during that time, we saw the huge spike in coronavirus cases.”

Kaplan says it means social distancing is key to keeping the virus under control and keeping the economy open.

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“That doesn’t mean we can’t interact with anyone, we just have to be at around the 25% of what’s normal, and things are manageable,” he said. “Once you start getting to 50%, it gets out of control.”

TOP Data looked at data for every state in the country and found this pattern held true.

“This was a well-done study, and it really confirms what we suspected,” said Dr. David Winter, a physician with Baylor Scott and White Health.

Dr. Winter says the numbers show it’s within our power to stop this virus.

“While you have that virus, for a week or two, it’s whole goal is to jump to somebody else and that’s exactly what it’s doing,” he said. “We need to limit our contact with folks.”

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That, along with washing our hands frequently and wearing masks, will go a long way towards slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Caroline Vandergriff