When it comes to social distancing, Minnesota gets an A.
The tech company Unacast analyzed GPS location data from millions of smartphones to track changes in average distances traveled before and after the coronavirus pandemic hit to determine how well residents were adhering to social distancing practices.
The company created a Social Distancing Scoreboard and gave A's to states and counties that showed a 40% or greater decrease in average distance traveled compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. Those that showed movement declines of 10% or less received an F.
Overall, Minnesota saw a 46% drop in average distance traveled, according to the scoreboard.
The top four ranked states that also got A grades were Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island (plus Washington, D.C.). In the bottom five were Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Overall, the country earned a B, the data showed.
In Minnesota, Red Lake County in the northwestern part of the state led the way with a 70% reduction in average distance traveled. Swift, Norman, Washington and Carver counties rounded out the five counties with the biggest declines.
Three counties — Traverse, Lake of the Woods and Cook — received grades of "F," the state's lowest marks.
Cook County got an F because there has been no reduction in the average distance traveled. Neighborhing Lake County got a D with a 16% decline.
In St. Louis County, where two cases of COVID-19 have been reported, the average distance traveled fell by 45%, which earned it an A.
On March 16, Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order that temporarily closed bars, restaurants and other venues that serve dine-in guests. Many companies also instituted work-at-home policies about that time, which may account for a big drop in travel. This week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said traffic volume on metro area roads has dropped by nearly 40%.
"Travel distance is one aspect, but of course, people can travel far without meeting a soul or travel 50 feet and end up in a crowd," Unacast founder and CEO Thomas Walle wrote in a blog post. "We found the change in average distance traveled worked best as a starting point."