Story at a glance

  • Researchers use data from cell phones, government agencies, health care systems and other sources to see which states are following social distancing guidelines.
  • Hawaii and New Jersey currently lead the nation with the highest scores.
  • Idaho had the lowest score in the nation.

Data compiled by researchers at the University of Maryland shows how states and counties across the country are adhering to social distancing and stay-at-home orders put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Impact Analysis developed by the Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) provides a social distancing index score to every state and county using privacy-protected data from cell phones, government agencies, health care systems and other sources. The index is based on data such as the percentage of people who are staying home, how many trips they are making and the average distance a person travels. 


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Essentially, a score of zero represents no social distancing, while 100 means perfect social distancing. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, Hawaii and New Jersey led the nation with social distancing index scores of 83, while New York and Minnesota followed with scores of 82. 

Idaho had the lowest score with 65, while Arkansas, Maine, Montana and New Mexico held scores of 68. The national social distancing index score came in at 76. 

UMD researchers also found that many Americans are still now following physical distancing guidelines issued by state and federal authorities. 


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“The percentage of people staying home nationwide increased from 20 percent to 35 percent at the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March but then stagnated at 35 percent for three weeks, despite skyrocketing new COVID-19 cases,” researchers said

“Government agencies need to improve the effectiveness of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders by educating the general public, increasing enforcement, working with employers and communities, and supporting vulnerable populations who may encounter challenges in meeting social distancing requirements,” Dr. Lei Zhang, director of MTI, said

The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of residents who are staying home in the nation at 58 percent. New York and New Jersey came in second with 56 percent, while Arkansas had the least with 36 percent. 

You can see how where you live ranks here


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Published on Apr 15, 2020