FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas gets an ‘F’ on an updated social distancing scoreboard from the data company Unacast, which uses cell phone data to track how Americans’ movements have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The interactive map assigns a letter grade to each state in the country based on how its citizens are responding to social-distancing messaging. The company says each letter grade is assigned based on two main metrics: decrease in average mobility (based on total distance traveled) and decrease in non-essential visits. Each metric is judged against normal travel behavior prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
The grading scale breaks down as follows:
- A: > 70% decrease
- B: 55-70% decrease
- C: 40-55% decrease
- D: 25-40% decrease
- F: <25% decrease
Arkansas is currently one of seven states with an ‘F’ grade on the scoreboard along with Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa, Wyoming, Missouri, and Mississippi.
Unacast’s previous grading system listed Arkansas at a ‘D.’ The data company’s new standards are stricter, setting a 70 percent reduction as an ‘A’ grade. Unacast says it pulled the 70 percent figure based on what data has shown in Italy and what could be expected under a total shutdown.
“As of our recalibration, no US state has yet achieved the new cut-off, but neither has any state has chosen to go into a full quarantine as Italy,” the company said in a blog post detailing its methodology.
The new scoring system also includes the metric ‘reduction in visits to non-essential venues.’ Non-essential venues include, but are not limited to:
- Restaurants (multiple kinds)
- Department and clothing stores
- Consumer electronics stores
- Cinemas and theaters
- Office supply stores
- Spas and hair salons
- Gyms and fitness/recreation facilities
- Car dealerships
- Craft, toy, and hobby shops
The data reflected on the scoreboard has a 4-day lag time to ensure accuracy, the company says. Letter grades for counties and states are subject to change each day as data changes.
Only two counties in Arkansas (Scott County, Clark County) have done enough to earn a ‘C’ – the highest letter grade achieved around the state.
The United States as a whole received a ‘D’ grade. The best-performing states include New York (B-), Nevada (B-), Hawaii (B-) and New Jersey (B-).
Visit the Social Distancing Scoreboard for the most recent information on how Arkansas stacks up with the rest of the country and check the Unacast blog post for more details on the company’s methodology.