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According to the World Health Organization, the primary way that coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads is through close interaction with other people. If people come into contact with droplets exhaled or coughed out by infected people, they are at risk of getting the virus. In response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans use “social distancing.” This includes canceling large events and staying at least two meters away from others when possible, among other measures to limit close contact.
Many states have taken the CDC’s advice and have legally enforced social distancing, to the point of banning large gatherings and mandating that restaurants and bars close in some cases. Other states have focused on laws ensuring greater funding for combating the pandemic or guaranteeing that treatment is covered by insurance. Some states have even taken hygiene into their own hands – for example, New York is manufacturing its own hand sanitizer to deal with shortages.
In order to determine the states that are most and least aggressive in their efforts to limit exposure to coronavirus, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 35 unique metrics. Our data set ranges from tested cases of COVID-19 per capita and state legislation on the pandemic to the uninsured population and share of the workforce in affected industries. Read on for the ranking and a complete description of our methodology.
In order to identify the states that have taken the most aggressive measures in limiting virus exposure, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions, “Prevention & Containment,” “Risk Factors & Infrastructure” and “Economic Impact.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 35 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 highest value.
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.
Prevention & Containment – Total Points: 60
State and Local Public Health Laboratories per Capita: Half Weight (~1.15 Points)
Tested Cases of COVID-19 per Capita: Double Weight (~4.62 Points)
Share of Confirmed Over Tested Cases of COVID-19: Double Weight (~4.62 Points)
Deaths Due to COVID-19 per Capita: Triple Weight (~6.92 Points)
Epidemiology Workforce per Capita: Half Weight (~1.15 Points)
Total Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Funding Per Capita: Full Weight (~2.31 Points)
Emergency Centers and Services per Capita: Double Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures both the number of emergency and relief services and the number of freestanding ambulatory surgical and emergency centers per capita.
Share of Workers with Access to Paid Sick Leave: Full Weight (~2.31 Points)
States Who Have Restricted Travel: Full Weight (~2.31 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures state employee restricted travel/restricted state travel enactment by state.
States Who Banned Large Gatherings to Slow Coronavirus Spread: Double Weight (~4.62 Points)