Social distancing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as the main way the virus spreads is through close contact between people. However, keeping people apart is not so easy in practice. While some people may enjoy the opportunity to stay in more, many are negatively affected by the new constraints on their social life, jobs, exercise regimens, shopping opportunities and more. Over a third of Americans say the COVID-19 crisis has hurt their mental health, according to a recent poll from the American Psychiatric Association.
In order to find out where social distancing is most difficult, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether residents have supportive relationships to how non-essential travel has changed due to the pandemic and how much consumers spent on social activities before COVID-19. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a complete description of our methodology.
Alongside this report, WalletHub also released a Social Distancing Survey , which examines how Americans’ attitudes and behaviors have changed during this period of self-isolation.
States Where Self-Isolating Is Most Difficult
‘Social Environment’ Rank
‘Time Spent on Social Activities’ Rank
‘Money Spent on Social Activities’ Rank
|16||District of Columbia||52.80||27||39||1|
Ask the Experts
Social distancing is a hard, but necessary, measure to minimize the spread of COVID-19. For more insight on the topic, WalletHub turned to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to read their bios and see their responses to the following key questions:
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the states where social distancing is most difficult, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions, “Social Environment,” “Time Spent on Social Activities,” and “Money Spent on Social Activities.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 13 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 difficult.
We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Social Environment – Total Points: 40
- Well-Being “Social” Rank: Triple Weight (~13.33 Points)
Note: This metric is based on Gallup’s “Well-Being Index”, particularly the “Social” element, defined by Gallup as “Having supportive relationships and love in your life.”
- Change in Non-Essential Visits: Double Weight (~8.89 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 from March 9th, 2020 to present compared to March 8th, 2020 and earlier.
- Volunteer Rate: Double Weight (~8.89 Points)
- Share of Residents Who Participate in Local Groups or Organizations: Full Weight (~4.44 Points)
- Share of Population Physically Active: Full Weight (~4.44 Points)
Time Spent on Social Activities – Total Points: 40
- Mean Leisure Time Spent per Day on Socializing and Communicating Face to Face: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Mean Leisure Time Spent per Day on Sports, Exercise and Recreation: Double Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Mean Leisure Time Spent per Day on Religious and Spiritual Activities: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Mean Leisure Time Spent per Day on Volunteering (Organizational and Civic Activities): Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Mean Leisure Time Spent per Day on Caring for Non-Household Members: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Mean Time Spent in Home: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Money Spent on Social Activities – Total Points: 20
- Share of Consumer Expenditures Related to Social Activities (pre-COVID-19): Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Travel & Tourism Consumer Spending per Capita: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Gallup, Unacast, Corporation for National and Community Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Council for Community & Economic Research and the U.S. Travel Association.
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