The primary way coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads is through close interaction with other people, according to the World Health Organization. If people come into contact with droplets exhaled or coughed out by infected people, they are at risk of getting the virus. In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans use “social distancing.” This includes canceling large events and staying at least six feet away from others when possible, among other measures to limit close contact.
Many states have taken the CDC’s advice and have legally enforced social distancing, to the point of banning even small gatherings, closing all non-essential businesses, shutting down schools and even ordering residents to shelter in place in some cases. In fact, over half of the 50 states have some form of lockdown in effect. Other states have focused on laws ensuring greater funding for combating the pandemic or guaranteeing that treatment is covered by insurance. Some states have even taken hygiene into their own hands – for example, New York is manufacturing its own hand sanitizer to deal with shortages. Many states have also moved back their tax deadlines following the federal government’s decision to do the same.
In order to determine the states that are most and least aggressive in their efforts to limit exposure to coronavirus, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 51 unique metrics. Our data set ranges from tested cases of COVID-19 per capita and state legislation on the pandemic to the uninsured population and share of the workforce in affected industries. Read on for the ranking and a complete description of our methodology.
Alongside this report, WalletHub also asked Americans how they feel about the pandemic directly with its Coronavirus and Money Survey. This survey examined how the virus has affected Americans’ daily life and spending habits.
States with the Most Aggressive Measures in Limiting Virus Exposure
‘Prevention & Containment’ Rank
‘Risk Factors & Infrastructure’ Rank
‘Economic Impact’ Rank
Delta in Overall Rank vs. March 23
|2||District of Columbia||5||2||18||20|
Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 1 p.m. EST on Monday, April 6.
Overtime Changes to Measures in Limiting Virus Exposure
Overall Rank, as of April 6
Overall Rank, as of March 23
Overall Rank, as of March 16
|District of Columbia||2||22||10|
Note: As the situation with the coronavirus pandemic has evolved, we have updated the methodology of this report to reflect the actions considered aggressive at the time of publication.
Coronavirus, and the resulting economic troubles and social restrictions that have come from it, have made life difficult for Americans and their elected officials. In order to provide more guidance to Americans and their governments, WalletHub turned to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to view their bios and see their responses to the following key questions:
- What are the best measures authorities can take to ensure the safety of their citizens?
- Given the current actions taken, which states have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic most efficiently, in your opinion?
- Despite all of the warnings, many Americans are not abiding by state or local government restrictions aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19. How can local authorities prevent this? Can the media play a more significant role in educating citizens on the dangers of this pandemic?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the states that have taken the most aggressive measures in limiting virus exposure, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions, “Prevention & Containment,” “Risk Factors & Infrastructure” and “Economic Impact.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 51 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most aggressive result.
We then determined the weighted average across all metrics to calculate an overall score for each state and the District. We then used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Prevention & Containment – Total Points: 75
- State and Local Public Health Laboratories per Capita: Half Weight (~1.01 Points)
- Tested Cases of COVID-19 per Capita: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
- Share of Confirmed Over Tested Cases of COVID-19: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
- Deaths Due to COVID-19 per Capita: Triple Weight (~6.08 Points)
- Presence of Quarantine Stations: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This metric refers to the presence or absence of U.S. Quarantine Stations for international travellers. These stations are managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ), and are in place to limit the introduction and spread of contagious diseases in the United States.
- Epidemiology Workforce per Capita: Half Weight (~1.01 Points)
- Total Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Funding Per Capita: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
- Emergency Centers and Services per Capita: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures both the number of emergency and relief services and the number of freestanding ambulatory surgical and emergency centers per capita.
- Share of Workers with Access to Paid Sick Leave: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
- States Who Have Restricted Travel: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures state employee restricted travel/restricted state travel enactment by state.
- States Who Banned Large Gatherings: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of policies that have banned large gatherings in a state.
- States Who Ordered Statewide School Closures: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures whether a state has ordered or recommended the closure of all public schools.
- States Who Have Activated National Guard in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
- States Who Have Closed Restaurants and Bars: Triple Weight (~6.08 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of mandatory closings of restaurants and bars to the public.
- States Who Are Recommending Statewide Curfew: Triple Weight (~6.08 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of an advisory statewide curfew in order to minimize coronavirus spread.
- Strictness of Shelter in Place: Quadruple Weight (~8.11 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of mandatory quarantine policies in a state and exemptions.
- Statewide Measures Against Evictions and Utility Terminations: Double Weight (~4.05 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of state protective measures against evictions and utility terminations as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- States Legislation Responding to COVID-19: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state legislation responding to COVID-19 by state.
- Suspension or Postponement of Legislative Sessions: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of suspension or postponement of Legislative Sessions by state.
- States Following Federal Lead in Postponing Tax Day to July 15: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This binary metrics measures whether a state has followed, or not, the Federal lead in postponing Tax Day to July 15.
- States Who Changed Voting Procedure: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures whether a state has changed, or not, the voting procedure in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Early Prescription Refills: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of required early prescription refills by state.
- States Who Have Relaxed Medical Licensure: Full Weight (~2.03 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of temporary medical licensure measures in response to COVID-19.
Risk Factors & Infrastructure – Total Points: 20
- Influenza and Pneumonia Death Rate: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
- Share of Residents in Facilities Receiving Respiratory Treatment: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
- Infectious Disease Incidence Rate: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
Note: Rates of infectious diseases, continue to rise despite the readily available prevention and treatment options. Three common diseases, each with different modes of transmission, prevention strategies and treatment options are included in this composite metric: chlamydia, pertussis and salmonella.
- Poverty Rate: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
- Population Density: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures both state population density and urban population density.
- Life Expectancy: Half Weight (~0.31 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Population: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
- Hospital Beds per Capita: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds per Capita: Triple Weight (~1.85 Points)
- States Who Restrict Drugs Related to COVID-19 Treatment to Prevent Shortages: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
- States Who Have Issued Guidance on Nonessential Surgeries: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
Note: This metric refers to whether states have issued guidance for hospitals and other medical facilities to reschedule nonessential surgeries to ease the demand for medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis.
- Public Hospital System Quality: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
Note: This metric is based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
- Access to Communication Infrastructure: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures the share of households with access to broadband internet and share of households with cellular data subscriptions.
- Share of Homes Lacking Access to Basic Hygienic Facilities: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures the share of homes with inadequate plumbing, with inadequate kitchen facilities or that are severely overcrowded.
- Food Insecurity Rate: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
- Public Healthcare Spending per Capita: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
- At Risk Population – Share of Elderly Population: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
- At Risk Population – Chronically Ill: Double Weight (~1.23 Points)
Note: This metric refers to population 18 years and older suffering from: arthritis, asthma, skin cancer or other types of cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, or diagnosed diabetes. It also includes the population that has had a stroke.
- Change in Average Distance Travelled: Triple Weight (~1.85 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in average distance travelled, used as a proxy for “Social Distancing”, and takes into account preventative actions such as working from home or cancelling vacations to strongly reduce travel distance.
- Change in Non-Essential Visits: Full Weight (~0.62 Points)
Note: This metric measures the effectiveness of each state in reducing non-essential interactions, such as avoiding non-essential trips to entertainment places or spare-time facilities.
Economic Impact – Total Points: 5
- Accommodation & Food Services; Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation; and Public Transportation Output as Share of Total State GDP: Double Weight (~0.83 Points)
- Share of Workforce in Accommodation & Food Services; Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation; Bus Service & Urban Transit; Air Transportation; Taxi Service: Double Weight (~0.83 Points)
- Part-time to Full-time Employment Workforce Ratio: Full Weight (~0.42 Points)
- Share of Wage and Salary Workers Paid at Hourly Rates: Double Weight (~0.83 Points)
- Share of Employment from Small Businesses: Full Weight (~0.42 Points)
- Preparedness of States for Unemployment Insurance Claims: Full Weight (~0.42 Points)
Note: This composite metric includes both the reserve ratio and solvency level of states.
- States Who Have Enacted Budget Legislation in Response to COVID-19: Double Weight (~0.83 Points)
Note: This metric measures the enactment of budget legislation changes in response to COVID-19 by state.
- State Rainy Day Fund Balance: Full Weight (~0.42 Points)
Note: This metric measures the state’s rainy day fund (RDF) balance as a percentage of the prior year’s general fund budget.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Association of Public Health Laboratories, The COVID Tracking Project, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pew Research Center, National Governors Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, Editorial Projects in Education, National Conference of State Legislatures, Emily A. Benfer, Visiting Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Health Justice Advocacy Clinic at Columbia Law School, National Consumer Law Center, Tax Foundation, Ballotpedia, Association of American Medical Colleges, United Health Foundation, American Medical Association, The Health Resources and Services Administration, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Feeding America, Unacast, U.S. Small Business Administration and news reports.