As health officials across the country are encouraging residents to take social distancing seriously, one website gives La Crosse County an A for its efforts.
That conclusion is from a new scorecard that analyzes phone GPS location data to measure the extent to which Americans are social distancing.
The website also gives Vernon and Houston counties an A, but other counties in the region don’t get such a high grade. Winona County received a B; Monroe, Crawford and Allamakee counties received C’s; Trempealeau County a D; and Jackson County an F.
The “Social Distancing Scorecard,” which does not provide a comprehensive review of local efforts at social distancing or containing the coronavirus, was put together by Unacast, a data analytics company. Grading all 50 states and D.C., county by county, the scorecard relies on information from the invisible but omnipresent data collection capabilities of apps on tens of millions of phones nationwide, including games, shopping and utility apps.
Specifically, the scorecard looks at change in distance traveled over time as a proxy for social distancing, a crude but useful datapoint about everyday behavior amid pandemic. The local data was collected March 21 and updated Wednesday.
Unacast’s chief executive Thomas Wall told The Washington Post he hopes the scorecard helps track compliance and efficacy of stay-at-home guidelines. He also said the company “can’t tell or disclose if any individual is staying at home or not” because the data is aggregated.
Because the data isn’t hyper-localized, the scorecard doesn’t indicate whether individuals are maintaining a six-foot barrier, for instance. However, the report gives a snapshot — which has not been vetted by public health authorities — of how whole communities are responding to social distancing guidelines.
As of Tuesday, the scorecard gave the United States a grade of B for its 40% decline in average distance traveled. Wisconsin also earned an overall grade of B. Minnesota received an a and Iowa a C. Wyoming, with a grade of F, performed worst nationwide.
The grades are as follows: A for a decrease greater than 40%; B for a decrease between 30 and 40%; “C” for 20 to 30%; “D” for 10 to 20%; and “F” for a decrease smaller than 10%.
Specific data-collecting apps were not identified by the scorecard. Wall told the Post that all of the apps used by Unacast let users know, but many smartphone users don’t realize the extent to which apps they use collect their information.
In this Series
- 66 updates
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.