Originally published in The Sylva Herald on May 21, 2020.
A data collection company is keeping an eye on how the United States is following social distancing guidelines and handing down grades. Jackson County received a “C,” according to data from Unacast.
“Our goal in developing this and our COVID-19 Toolkit is to empower organizations to unearth reliable and valuable information to guide critical decision making and planning in relation to COVID-19 containment,” said Thomas Walle, CEO and co-founder at Unacast.
Their interactive social distancing scoreboard anonymously uses GPS cell phone data to analyze social distancing behavior and compare it to other counties, states and countries.
The methodology includes three different metrics that are averaged to result in the overall grade for an individual state or county, according to the company website. Those metrics are percent change in average distance traveled, percent change in non-essential visitation and human encounters compared to national baseline.
This methodology has created an overall grade of a C for Jackson County with 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases among full-time residents as of Tuesday.
There has been less than a 25 percent reduction in average mobility based on distance traveled, greater than a 70 percent reduction in non-essential visits and a 74-82 percent decrease in encounters compared to the national baseline.
Jackson County is doing better than most counties in North Carolina, as the state’s overall grade is an F with 18,673 cases.
Surrounding counties fared worse than Jackson. Unacast gave Macon a D-minus, Swain a D and Haywood and Transylvania earned an F.
Diving deeper into the methodology, the state has less than a 25 percent reduction in average mobility based on distance traveled, less than a 55 percent reduction in non-essential visits and less than a 40 percent decrease in encounters density compared to the national baseline.
The United States, with 1,483,715 cases as a whole, has a grade of an F with less than a 25 percent reduction in average mobility based on distance traveled, less than a 55 reduction in non-essential visits and a 40-74 percent decrease in encounters density compared to national baseline.
To opt-out of the data collection, view the social distancing scoreboard, or learn more about Unacast, visit unacast.com.