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Coronavirus & Responsible Behaviors by State [+Insurance Advice]

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2020

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Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • With a focus on masking and distancing, New Yorkers are fighting COVID-19 responsibly
  • South Carolinians are largely not masking or staying home, resulting in coronavirus infection spikes
  • Rhode Island has administered the most tests per capita, a key factor in COVID-19 protection

Many of the states best prepared to face the second wave of coronavirus infections, such as New York and California, are also the states where residents are acting most responsibly to prevent coronavirus infections. This is especially important because as the summer progresses, we’re seeing the first wave of infections ramp up, not fall, in many places across the United States.

Public health authorities — from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine — have confirmed that when people consistently wear masks in public places or stay at home, new COVID-19 infection rates decrease. And yet, many folks across the United States have taken issue with mandates when it comes to facial coverings and sheltering in place.

All this data led us to wonder: Where are people being the most and least personally responsible for preventing the spread of COVID-19? To rank the 10 best and worst states for resident responsibility during the coronavirus crisis, we compared the adoption of face coverings, the percentage of people sheltering in place, and the number of administered coronavirus tests.

YouGov recently released data on the percentage of American adults in each state who say they wear a face mask when in public. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) is tracking the average number of people staying at home instead of venturing into public. The number of coronavirus tests per 100,000 residents is pulled from data provided by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Whenever possible, sheltering in place is the most effective form of coronavirus prevention. When venturing out in public, we know that masks are 100 percent ineffective if they are not worn, and that proper mask usage helps protect everyone.

That’s why we’re ranking coronavirus responsible behaviors by state. In this article, we’ll also discuss other health-related behaviors that can decrease your likelihood of coronavirus infection or fatality, including methods for protecting your mental well-being during this trying time.

The 10 MOST Responsible States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we all know, the preventative behaviors required for fighting COVID-19 have become hot-button issues from coast to coast, leading to uneven action between states.

The states where individuals are exhibiting the most responsible personal behaviors during the coronavirus outbreak are concentrated in the Northeastern and Western United States, as you can see in the map below.

Where residents taking the MOST responsible coronavirus fighting behaviors live.

Many of these states, especially New York and California, were hard hit in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents in these states learned to live in quarantine and got used to the regular wearing of masks.

We now know that such actions help not only slow the spread of coronavirus infections but also allow economies to reopen in safer ways for both consumers and workers.

The BEST States: Taking Preventative Measures to Fight COVID-19
StatePopulation% Wearing Masks% Sheltering in PlaceTests per 100,000 PeopleRank
New York19.45 million53%30.1%18,1761
New Jersey8.882 million56%25.5%14,5892
District of Columbia705,74956%34.4%11,9833
Rhode Island1.06 million52%22.1%21,2804
Massachusetts6.89 million46%25.5%11,5195
Alaska731,54542%27%13,0316
California39.51 million52%25.5%9,0837
Connecticut3.57 million47%22.7%11,2628
Nevada3.08 million45%25.8%8,3189
Illinois12.67 million43%23.1%11,22210
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From Alaska to Rhode Island, these states are effectively fighting the coronavirus through both government action and individual behaviors. These 10 states have an average of 49.2 percent of adults self-reporting they wear a mask in public. Another 26.2 percent of folks in these states are staying home when possible to shelter in place.

Let’s count down the states we’re ranking as most responsible for taking individual responsibility to fight the spread of COVID-19.

#10 – Responsible: Illinois

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 43%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 23.1%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 11,222

Starting off our rankings of the states where residents are being proactive about COVID-19 prevention is Illinois. In the initial wave of coronavirus infections, Chicago, the state’s largest metro area, was hit especially hard.

With 11,222 coronavirus tests per 100,000 people, the state of Illinois is taking both testing and virus tracking seriously. As you can see in the video below from Chicago’s ABC 7, the seriousness with which Illinois and its residents have taken this pandemic is allowing them to reopen responsibly.

More great coronavirus news for the state of Illinois: Only 7.9 percent of residents don’t have health coverage, which is good when facing a public health pandemic like the coronavirus. For those looking for affordable health insurance, we’re here to help you find it. Even during a time like the current pandemic, it’s important to not buy more health insurance than you actually need.

#9 – Responsible: Nevada

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 45%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 25.8%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 8,318

Thankfully, Nevada has yet to be hit hard by the coronavirus on a large scale, though the pandemic is wreaking havoc on the state’s economy, which is largely tourism-based. Though Nevada’s virus numbers have been relatively low, the state is being proactive about all three indicators we tracked.

Impressively, 45 percent of Nevadans report wearing a mask in public, even though the state is requiring very few residents to wear them by mandate.

With over a quarter of Nevadans staying at home during the continued pandemic, it’s important to know the ways to keep your home and vehicle coronavirus free.

#8 – Responsible: Connecticut

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 47%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 22.7%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 11,262

Nearly half of the Constitution State’s 3.57 million residents report wearing a mask when in public. But what’s really putting Connecticut on our list of the states acting most responsibly in fighting the coronavirus: The high number of coronavirus tests that have been performed here.

As you can see in the video below, Hartford HealthCare has partnered with the state government to successfully raise the level of testing available to Connecticut’s residents.

Over 11,000 tests have already been given for every 100,000 people who call Connecticut home. That’s good news, especially considering that the densely populated Northeast corridor was the hardest hit region in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.

But the Northeast wasn’t the only place hard hit by the first round of infections. The West Coast, too, holds many coronavirus hotspots.

#7 – Responsible: California

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 52%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 25.5%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 9,083

We’re ranking California, the most populous state in the United States, as the 7th most proactively responsible state in preventing the coronavirus pandemic’s spread. For a majority of Californians, mask-wearing has become a normalized activity when in public, which we know helps prevent the spread of this airborne virus.

As summer sets in, we’re sure more Californians will be headed outside, going hiking, swimming at the state’s beautiful beaches, and taking their dogs on more walks. Of course, taking part in outdoor activities also means taking precautions to stay safe, and we don’t just mean from COVID-19. For instance, we recently found out that State Farm reports California is the number one state for dog bite insurance claims, where $11.3 million was paid out last year in 369 claims.

#6 – Responsible: Alaska

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 42%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 27%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 13,031

The anomaly on this list, Alaska is a largely rural state where nearly half of the population lives in its largest city, Anchorage. That being said, the state has made a concentrated effort to test its residents, which seems to be working considering the relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Last Frontier.

As you can see in the video below, in the early days of the coronavirus crisis facing New York City, Alaska sent many medical workers to fight on the front lines of the pandemic.

Pediatric nurse Desiree Cook explains that her “goal to getting to New York… is allowing them to utilize” her training to fight the spread of COVID-19 in one of its most deadly hotspots. This public sense of care and togetherness permeates the Alaskan culture.

Given the remote conditions much of the state faces, Alaskans have to rely on one another in times of emergency such as the public coronavirus pandemic.

#5 – Responsible: Massachusetts

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 46%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 25.5%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 11,519

Headed back to the East Coast, Massachusetts lands at No. 4 on our list of states where residents are acting responsibly to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Testing rates have been high in the Bay State, which is not surprising given that the Boston area is home to some of the finest medical institutions in the world. One of these institutions, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is offering a great public service: a series of videos on regulating emotions and building resiliency during a pandemic. You can catch one of these videos below.

Massachusetts has long been known for taking its health care seriously. In fact, the state currently has the lowest uninsured rate. Only 3.3 percent of Massachusetts residents don’t have active health coverage.

When the Obama administration finalized its signature Affordable Care Act, it turned to Massachusetts’ state health insurance exchange as a model to be replicated nationally.

#4 – Responsible: Rhode Island

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 52%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 22.1%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 21,280

What takes the Ocean State to the 4th spot on this responsibility ranking? Testing. Rhode Island has currently administered more coronavirus tests per capita than any other state across the country.

Wearing masks has also become fairly normalized here, especially in the Providence area. With 52 percent of Rhode Islanders reporting that they don a face covering when in public, we have hopes that the state will continue to flatten the curve of its coronavirus infections.

At the first White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting in more than two months, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reminded us about the importance of acting responsibly, including wearing a mask. He said:

“You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility. We can either be part of the solution or part of the problem… The only way we’re going to end it is by ending it together.”

Places like Rhode Island and much of the Northeast are taking Dr. Fauci’s advice seriously. Their actions are working to slow the spread of this deadly virus.

#3 – Responsible: District of Columbia

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 56%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 34.4%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 11,983

No. 3 on our list of the places where folks are taking the most personal responsibility in fighting this pandemic is the District of Columbia, home to our nation’s capital.

COVID-19 hit just as the District’s prime tourist season was approaching. You can see how eerily empty the area felt in the video below from the Washington Post.

Luckily, the District took the initial wave of coronavirus infections so seriously that it’s now able to open back up slowly and responsibly. Currently, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered that face coverings be worn when District residents venture out in public, including on public transit.

As more District residents hit the road, it’s important to take safety precautions beyond face coverings. We found Washington, D.C., to be the nation’s most dangerous place to drive. Drivers in the District get in an accident every 4.7 years on average, compared to a national average of 10 years between crashes.

#2 – Responsible: New Jersey

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 56%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 25.5%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 14,589

With high levels of coronavirus tests per capita and adults reporting they wear facial coverings when in public, the Garden State lands at No. 2 on our rankings. Tragically, as of July 6, 2020, New Jersey has the highest coronavirus death toll. This could also be leading the state’s residents to be more cautious.

New Jersey is flanked by two major metro areas (New York City and Philadelphia) that saw significant rates of infection during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s good now to find New Jersians still taking COVID-19 so seriously.

New Jerseyans have some of the longest average commute times and distances in the United States. With so many residents working from home or sheltering in place while on furlough, it might be a good time to consider usage-based auto insurance, which is often a more affordable option for drivers hitting the road less. Usage-based insurance rates average 10 percent lower than typical plans.

#1 – Most Responsible: New York

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 53%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 30.1%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 18,176

New York City, the most densely populated area of the Empire State, was the epicenter of the coronavirus as it reached the United States. New York City alone has over 219,000 confirmed cases and nearly 22,000 COVID-related deaths at the time of writing. But the state took and is taking the fight against the novel coronavirus very seriously.

A high share of New Yorkers are sheltering at home, and a majority of adults self-report wearing masks when in public. Additionally, only Rhode Island has conducted more coronavirus tests per capita than the state of New York.

New York is taking the virus so seriously that as infections bloom in other parts of the nation, the state is joining New Jersey and Connecticut in mandating a 14-day quarantine on travelers from COVID-19 hotspots. Learn more about this mandate in the CNBC report below.

As we face another round of coronavirus infections or a never-ending first round, New York is in a good spot to fight back. The state has a large number of physicians — 375.1 for every 100,000 residents — and only 6.6 percent of New Yorkers don’t have health insurance.

Sadly, not all states are taking the coronavirus as seriously as New York and its neighbors on the first half of our rankings.

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The 10 LEAST Responsible States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The states where individuals are exhibiting the least responsible personal behaviors during the coronavirus outbreak are concentrated in the Midwest and Southern United States, as you can see in the map below.

We were surprised to see Midwesterners, people living in a region known for its commitments to personal responsibility, exhibit fewer preventative behaviors regarding COVID-19 than folks in other parts of the United States. This could largely be because these states were largely unaffected in the initial round of coronavirus infections.

Where residents taking the LEAST responsible coronavirus fighting behaviors live.

Major industries in many of these states, such as manufacturing and agriculture, do not allow workers to continue work from home. Thus, the pandemic response becomes a question of not only personal and public health, but also economic survival.

In the table below, we offer how each of these 10 states ranked for our three primary responsible behavior indicators.

The WORST States: Lacking in Preventative Measures to Fight COVID-19
StatePopulation% Wearing Masks% Sheltering in PlaceTests per 100,000 PeopleRank
South Carolina5.15 million37%18.3%6,2591
Kansas2.91 million32%21.3%5,5542
Idaho1.79 million31%22%4,4373
Ohio11.69 million33%21.1%5,8234
Indiana6.73 million36%20.1%6,4545
Alabama4.9 million38%17%7,3406
South Dakota884,65932%19.5%8,5107
Missouri6.14 million37%21.4%5,3388
Kentucky4.47 million32%20.7%7,5139
Oklahoma3.96 million37%19.8%7,56510
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Individuals can take the most responsibility when it comes to wearing a mask and staying at home whenever possible. They can also seek out a coronavirus test, but availability is admittedly not even across the United States. Many state governors have prioritized securing testing capabilities in their states; conversely, many governors have not, such as several of the state executives on this list.

#10 – Irresponsible: Oklahoma

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 37%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 19.8%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 7,565

Oklahomans’ primary problem in fighting the coronavirus: Many Sooners are refusing or unable to shelter in place. The state is largely rural outside of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and much of the state’s economy relies on agriculture and oil and gas, both industries not capable of letting many employees work from home.

That being said, many non-essential activities are drawing residents of Oklahoma out of their homes and into public spaces. One prominent example: President Trump held his first public rally since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tulsa on June 20, despite calls to cancel it from public health officials. Yahoo! Finance covers the controversial rally in the video below.

A June 2020 coronavirus study by the CDC found that 82 percent of Americans agree that groups of 10 or more should not be allowed.

And yet, mixed messages on appropriate behaviors during this pandemic from all levels of government and public officials will only put more people at risk of spreading the infection across the United States.

#9 – Irresponsible: Kentucky

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 32%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 20.7%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 7,513

Kentucky has the second-lowest level of mask adoption of the states on this list. Only 32 percent (or less than a third) of adults in the Bluegrass State self-report wearing a mask when in public. In contrast, 43 percent of adults in Illinois, Kentucky’s neighbor to the north, are committing to wearing masks.

In a recent press conference, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear told his fellow state residents:

“Understand that a mask is the best way to show that you care about other people.”

We couldn’t agree more. Wearing a mask is a known deterrent to virus spread that protects everyone. Sadly, if Kentuckians contract COVID-19, major medical insurance may become necessary to cover the costs of the virus, which at this point are largely unknown for the long term. Unlike most regular health insurance policies, major medical insurance typically offers a stop-gap loss provision, which caps the amount you will have to pay regardless of your medical costs.

#8 – Irresponsible: Missouri

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 37%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 21.4%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 5,338

Though a higher percentage of Missourians are wearing masks than most other states on this list, only a fifth of people in the Show-Me State are staying home whenever possible. This is especially true outside of the state’s two major urban areas, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Tensions over mask and state-at-home mandates in Missouri are high. In the video below, you can see how the mayor of Kansas City has received death threats and racial hatred over his own mask order.

A global health pandemic, unrest over social justice issues, and now a COVID-fueled economic recession are leading many people to lash out. That’s why it’s important for us all to have the best, most reliable health information and to realize that we’re all in this fight together during this unprecedented time.

That’s why we’ve conducted this study with data from only reliable sources such as the CDC and Johns Hopkins University.

#7 – Irresponsible: South Dakota

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 32%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 19.5%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 8,510

Though South Dakota is administering more tests per capita than any other state on this list, this rate of testing may be giving the state’s residents a sense of false security.

By and large, South Dakotans are not wearing masks when in public and not staying home when possible, which is a bad formula as we see coronavirus infections rise in largely rural states like The Mount Rushmore State.

South Dakota Governor Kristi L. Noem has refused to put many coronavirus lockdown measures in place. In a recent press conference, she told reporters:

“South Dakota is not New York City, and our sense of personal responsibility, our resiliency and our already sparse population density put us in a great position to manage this virus.”

Though lower population density can certainly help states delay infections, a slower response from the federal government means that Americans will be traveling to places like South Dakota from all over the country this summer, as the state’s many national parks and treasures like Mount Rushmore are seen as safer vacation options. Though this may be true, as outdoor spaces are recommended for fun this summer over indoor, this also means that the state will see more travel and thus more infections in the coming months.

#6 – Irresponsible: Alabama

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 38%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 17%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 7,340

Though many Alabamans are wearing masks in public, the state has the lowest share of residents staying at home of any state we placed on this list.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey extended her “Safer at Home” order through July 31, as you can see in the video below.

Unfortunately, the “Safer at Home” is not much of an order and issues some of the laxest guidelines of any order across the nation.

This lack of strong guidelines could lead to even more trouble for Alabama, especially considering that as of mid-June, Alabama saw a 92 percent increase in its seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases.

#5 – Irresponsible: Indiana

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 36%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 20.1%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 6,454

Landing in the 5th spot on our ranking of the states exhibiting the fewest responsible behaviors to fight the coronavirus is the Hoosier State.

Though testing levels are fairly decent in Indiana, only a fifth of the state’s residents are staying at home whenever possible despite recent spikes in Indiana COVID-19 infections.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently postponed the state’s final stage of COVID-19 reopening, which would have allowed bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity. In many states where infection spikes have been most prominent, such as Texas and South Carolina, bars have been seen as particular hotspots for the spreading of COVID-19.

#4 – Irresponsible: Ohio

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 33%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 21.1%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 5,823

The most populous state on our list of the least responsible states during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio struggles to provide enough testing for its diverse population.

Though Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was initially praised for his strong coronavirus response, many fear his lifting of restrictions places Ohio at risk moving forward. You can learn more about his reasoning in the PBS News Hour video below.

We hope that despite widespread reopening across the Buckeye State, more Ohioans will choose to stay home when possible and to wear a mask in public than currently are.

Sadly, if the residents don’t take the virus seriously now their economy could be shut back down, leading to longer-term implications than are necessary if action is taken.

#3 – Irresponsible: Idaho

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 31%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 22%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 4,437

Idaho is a growing state. Many people are drawn to the state’s many business opportunities, especially in the Boise area, and the low cost of living. Idaho has the third-cheapest homeowners insurance in the nation. You can expect to pay only $703 a year for Idaho home insurance versus a national average of $1,192.

Unfortunately, if coronavirus infections continue to rise in the state, Idaho’s growth may slow substantially during the COVID-fueled recession.

To reverse this trend, the state and its residents need to take the pandemic more seriously by expanding testing, the rate of mask adoption, and the share of people staying home when possible.

#2 – Irresponsible: Kansas

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 32%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 21.3%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 5,554

When it comes to safety, Kansas is typically known as a cautious state where folks take care of each other. The state legislature recently passed a No Pay/No Play law to encourage more drivers to purchase auto insurance. The law severely limits drivers from collecting damages if they suffer bodily injuries in an accident and do not have the proper auto insurance coverage.

But when it comes to fighting the coronavirus pandemic responsibly, it appears Kansas is lagging behind most other states.

Barely more than a fifth of Kansas are staying at home during this pandemic, and fewer than a third are reporting that they wear a mask when in public.

Though the state is striving to expand coronavirus testing availability across the largely rural state, all Kansans must step up to fight this global health pandemic.

#1 – Most Irresponsible: South Carolina

  • Adults Wearing Masks in Public: 37%
  • People Staying Home When Possible: 18.3%
  • COVID-19 Tests Given per 100K Residents: 6,259

We’re ranking South Carolina as the state exhibiting the least responsible behaviors in fighting the current coronavirus pandemic. Though testing rates are fairly high in the Palmetto State, and a large share of South Carolinians report wearing a mask in public, very few are choosing to stay at home, and the state government is not mandating them to do so. This is leading to some of the worst coronavirus stats in the nation.

The state’s beach communities are especially worrisome hotspots for this highly contagious virus. As you can see in the Associated Press video below, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s beaches and bars are filling up despite recent spikes in infections.

We know that staying at home for long stretches is not ideal. But we’re all in this crucial fight together.

The more we practice social distancing, the more we protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors from becoming infected with a virus that still carries a lot of unknowns.

Responsible Behaviors: Protecting, Distancing, & Testing

Americans are worried about the effects of COVID-19. Polling clearinghouse FiveThirtyEight has been tracking how concerned Americans are about the coronavirus, and you can view their findings in the interactive graph below.

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As you can see, a majority of Americans report being “very” or “somewhat concerned,” and people reporting this level of fear regarding COVID-19 are on the rise. But this begs the question: Where are residents taking the best precautions to prevent and fight the spread of the coronavirus?

We based our ranking of states where the most and least responsible people taking individual action to fight the coronavirus live on three behaviors scientists are tracking during the current COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Likelihood of mask usage
  2. Average percent of people staying at home per day
  3. Number of coronavirus tests per 100,000 residents

Let’s take a closer look at these three indicators, national figures regarding each, and what the health community believes about them regarding fighting the current coronavirus across the United States and around the globe.

Wearing Masks in Public

In many countries, and in our own nation’s hospitals, wearing a face mask has long been practiced as an effective means of slowing the spread of airborne viruses.

Despite the vast majority of reputable health organizations — from the CDC to the World Health Organization, the Mayo Clinic, and Harvard Medical School — pleading with the public to wear a face covering, a majority of Americans still do not don a mask when in public.

In the interactive coronavirus map below, you can see where residents are most likely to wear a mask.

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As you can see, residents in California, New York, and New Jersey are most likely to wear a mask in public. These states were very hard hit by the initial round of coronavirus infections, but by taking measured efforts across the population, COVID-19 infections have been on the decline, a fact residents of other states should look to.

It will take time for scientists to know exactly how effective masks are in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we do know that mask-wearing significantly reduces transmission for both the wearer and those around them. In their analysis of the most recent mask studies, NPR concludes:

“While politicians spar over the topic, a growing number of scientific studies support the idea that masks are a critical tool in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.”

The helpful infographic below provides some easy-to-understand information on the transmission of the coronavirus when it comes to covering up with masks and social distancing.

Masking and chance of COVID-19 transmission.

As you can see, masking is highly effective, especially when everyone wears a mask and keeps at least six feet apart. Wearing a mask is not a replacement for responsible social distancing. Both behaviors should be enacted in tandem.

But what’s even more effective than wearing a mask to prevent COVID-19 transmission? Staying at home.

Quarantining Safely at Home

Staying at home and away from possible contagions is the only surefire way to prevent COVID-19 exposure, which is why so many places are asking residents to stay at home whenever possible. We know staying home can lead to loneliness and frustration, but as Mahatma Gandhi said, “To lose patience is to lose the battle.” In this case, the battle can be a matter of life and death.

So where are people staying at home? In the interactive map below, you can see the county-level change in the percent of people staying at two important dates in the current coronavirus pandemic: March 13, when state-at-home advisories went into place across the United States, and March 29, when staying at home peaked.

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As you can see, people in places where the COVID-19 pandemic was originally felt at high levels are continuing to quarantine whenever possible. This is especially true along the Pacific seaboard, in cities like Seattle and San Francisco, and in the Northeast in cities like New York and Boston.

Top-tier medical journal The Lancet conducted a review on the studies of the psychological effects of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that:

“Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger,” but also that “appeals to altruism by reminding the public about the benefits of quarantine to wider society can be favourable.”

It is important to remember that though isolating is hard, it may well save lives — both your own and those of others — and that the recommendation to stay at home and away from people you love is temporary.

COVID-19 Test Availability

To make responsible decisions regarding the coronavirus, both individually and collectively, widespread testing is required. This helps us to know where the virus is growing and where it is relatively under control. And of course, on the personal level it allows us to know if we should seek out treatment.

Johns Hopkins University has been providing the most reputable tracking of not only coronavirus infections, but also COVID-19 testing. In the graph below, you can see how states compare on coronavirus tests for every 100,000 residents.

View as image

With nearly 22,000 tests per 100,000 residents, Rhode Island has the most per capita testing of any state in the United States. It’s followed closely by Northeastern neighbors New York and New Jersey. A high share of tests in the United States has been conducted in the densely-populated North Atlantic corridor, in fact.

Idaho and Oregon are currently at the bottom of the testing ranking, with 4,792 and 5,175 tests administered per 100,000 residents, respectively.

Professional Advice: Preventative Behaviors & Fighting COVID-19

We know these are stressful times. We all have to take particular care of ourselves to survive. And though taking up new hobbies or throwing ourselves into home improvement projects to reduce stress are great tactics, we also need to rely on advice from a variety of professionals to get through this.

We asked a variety of experts, from constitutional scholars to mask manufacturers, to weigh in on the issue of COVID-19 and personal responsibility. Read on to see what they had to share.

“At the company I co-founded, OURA, we manufacture reusable antimicrobial medical-grade masks (ASTM F2100-19 Level 1 surgical masks). In developing our mask, we acquired an extensive and intimate understanding of the safety and care of masks so I wanted to provide a bit of insight into this.

People resist wearing masks because they have a variety of beliefs they feel are being violated.

Some find this mandate to be an infringement on their rights; others simply don’t believe COVID-19 is real or think wearing a mask is detrimental to their health without any scientific backing to prove otherwise.

Many Americans who socially distanced and quarantined themselves feel they did their part to ‘stop the spread’ then grew frustrated with staying home. People assume the reopening of the many businesses was a sign that it is over, when in reality, it was never over, and many counties opened their doors prematurely.

As we continue to shift our efforts and resources to increasing the production of testing kits, we will be able to better identify who is infectious and needs to be quarantined for the allotted two-week period. Having testing kits will protect others and will properly allow communities to communicate and protect one another.

People refuse to get testing because they do not think they are sick or carriers. There has to be more education and awareness spread to these people. There has to be more data and more ‘proof’ to show Americans how widespread and dangerous this is. Our country needs to teach the meaning of courtesy and collectivism rather than valuing our own individual preferences and comforts.

It will be important to share how COVID-19 has affected many families and households. They need to know the pain it’s caused and how their actions can save the lives around them by acting proactively.

I live in Southern California. As the number of cases has drastically increased, Governor Newsom has reissued the mandatory requirement to wear a mask in public at all times. Wearing a mask will be a crucial factor that will play a significant role in our recovery.

Locally in Anaheim Hills, I have been to two restaurants that require you to wear a mask until you are seated and wear a mask the moment you leave your table. This effect with mask-wearing and distancing tables helps to reduce the risk of infecting others.”

Keane Veran is the Co-founder and CEO of OURA. OURA is a leading manufacturer of reusable antimicrobial face masks.

Keane Veran is the co-founder and CEO of OURA.
OURA is a leading manufacturer of reusable antimicrobial face masks.


“WikiLawn is based out of Austin, Texas, and the coronavirus numbers in our state have recently exploded. It seems inevitable that we’ll have to close back down because our governor has been completely incompetent and irresponsible.

We opened up way too quickly, and with mixed messages and no support, people are treating this like it’s some kind of political issue. I’ve been aggressively yelled at for asking someone to keep their distance when they weren’t wearing a mask, and while I don’t blame the minimum wage employee in charge of the store at the time, there needs to be some kind of repercussion for this reckless behavior.

All that said, I really want to recognize the employees who worked during all stages of the pandemic and continue to work. Those who are always wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, following distancing procedures, and taking public health seriously.

In general, I feel Austin’s people are better than our government (though our mayor has been trying fruitlessly to enact change). The people who care are going above and beyond to protect even the people who don’t.

We have made some positive strides. Bars are closed back down, restaurants aren’t as packed as they once were. I don’t think we’ll see a massive drop until masks become mandatory, which is something I hope our mayor can at least make progress on, since our governor seems staunchly opposed.

I don’t foresee another lockdown being permitted by the current administration. It’s a shame, because if we’d been given adequate support over the last few months, our numbers would resemble other countries’.”

 Dan Bailey is the founder of WikiLawn Lawn Care, which services over 4,000 U.S. cities. His company has been careful to protect its employees and clients during the COVID pandemic.

Dan Bailey is the founder of WikiLawn Lawn Care, which services over 4,000 U.S. cities.
His company has been careful to protect its employees and clients during the COVID pandemic.


“The topic of responsible behaviors during this pandemic often misses a very important point — the United States is supposed to be the land of the free.

People may resist wearing masks for several different reasons: Other health concerns, conflicting stories about the effect and dangers of wearing masks, even the repeated proof that the models used to show the contagiousness and dangers of COVID-19 being wildly inaccurate.

After months of being given scare stories that have proven to be hype, is it any wonder people do not trust politicians, the media, or the so-called ‘experts’ that have gotten it wrong time and time again?

Add to that the blatant political bias shown by those same politicians, media pundits, and experts, ignoring their own advice when it relates to a political event they are in favor of, and the majority of them have shown themselves to be dishonest actors. Like the boy who cried wolf, many simply ignore the calls to wear masks as just another scare tactic or political stunt based on pseudoscience.

Why should people submit to tests that have proven not only to give a high percentage of false positives, but some of which do not even prove infection, much less being contagious? If these tests are so great, so useful, and so accurate, then people would be more likely to get tested.

If the stated dangers of not being tested were not proven to be false, people might be more willing to be tested. Why submit to a test that might falsely identify you as infected? When the actual scientists come up with a more accurate test, I believe more people would be willing to be tested.

More important than the reasons why people have decided not to wear masks, are the tyrannical and dictatorial acts of some to try to force compliance. Neither the Constitution of the United States nor those of the individual states delegates to the government the authority to deprive people of the liberty to live their lives as they see fit.

In fact, those constitutions prohibit the government from depriving people of their liberty or their property, (their businesses), without due process of law.

‘No person … shall be … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;’ – Amendment V
‘nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;’ – Amendment XIV

If people want to wear masks to protect themselves, that is their choice. If they decide that the risks or costs of not doing so outweigh the dangers, then they are responsible for the consequences.

And for those who believe the questionable effectiveness of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the disease to others I point out not only the conflicting data, but the requirement that the government has probable cause that an individual is actually dangerous. Nothing in the recent history of COVID-19 scare has proven that.

With the recent increases in asymptomatic positive tests, due in large part to increased testing overall, and the studies showing almost 50 percent of COVID-19 deaths coming from nursing homes, there is further evidence that the spread of COVID-19 is not what we should be focusing on, but on protecting those of greatest risk.

Why are we spending so much time, effort, and money on testing people with a less than 5 percent chance of serious illness or death when we should be focusing on how to protect the elderly and those with other health issues that would put them at greater risk?”

Paul Engel has spent more than 20 years studying and teaching history and religion. He founded The Constitution Study to help Americans understand the Constitution.

Paul Engel has spent more than 20 years studying and teaching history and religion.
He founded The Constitution Study to help Americans understand the Constitution.


“My home state of South Carolina is ranked as the ninth-least prepared in the country. While our numbers aren’t nearly as bad as Florida, Texas, and Arizona, we’re seeing a trend that points toward a lack of personal responsibility and government oversight.

Like in many places throughout the country, I see very few people in South Carolina wearing masks, even when businesses say it’s required. No one’s enforcing it at all.

Recently the government in Charleston made the decision to pull back on summer camps and related activities, which feels like a responsible move, but also too little, too late.

California, where GadgetReview is based, has had a much better response. Obviously, there are massive industries there, and closing them down for too long would create a ripple effect in the economy. But they stood firm against outside pressure (for the most part) and have now implemented a mask law.

Obviously, a law only works if it’s enforced, and it remains to be seen just how well it will be. But I feel like California will do a much better job of turning things around due to this alone. If we could see this kind of action in other states (which we’re thankfully seeing in at least several counties now), we’d be in much better shape.

The question is how to undo the damage caused by this issue being so divisive. I don’t know the answer to that. I do know it shouldn’t be a political issue, though, and the more focus is shifted to public health and safety, the better off we’ll all be.

I feel there needs to be more support across the board. It has to start with the federal government, but the state government also needs to reinforce that this is a matter of public health and safety. It isn’t a partisan issue.”

Rex Freiberger is the President of GadgetReview, a tech & lifestyle publication. He helps consumers make smart purchases.

Rex Freiberger is the president of GadgetReview, a tech & lifestyle publication.
He helps consumers make smart purchases.


“COVID-19 is affecting us all, yet some people just don’t seem to care. I live in South Carolina and here it’s a rare occurrence to see people wearing a mask. Why do these people risk their lives and the lives of others so needlessly?

I believe it’s because they believe themselves to be stronger than the virus and therefore want to fight it instead of avoiding it. In places like California and New York, everyone wears a mask because the elected officials and the people understand that if you get it, no matter how strong you are, it can and will knock you down or kill you.

Refusal to socially distance has been a highlight in the media in recent weeks but why do these people find it so hard to socially distance even as there is a huge increase of COVID cases? I have read through articles from psychiatric journals and have come to find out that some people need to see other people.

Instead of telling these people they should go and stay in their house, you should tell these people they should talk to people on the phone, on one of the video-conferencing apps, or even stand six feet apart and talk.  Before marginalizing these people, you should ask yourself ‘Is a drug overdose leading to death or a suicide equal to a COVID hospital death?’

Another one of the many problems is testing. Now there are two parts to this problem: lack of tests available and individual refusal to test. Let’s start with lack of tests. Testing is essential to get back to normal life. And regular testing might be the new normal.

Places like South Korea and New Zealand understand that testing is essential and have been able to get back to normal life. America has barely tested its population compared to other countries and our elected officials call testing the reason we have COVID patients.

Refusal to test is as big of a problem as the lack of tests. In the age of fear-mongering and media bias, people don’t know where to turn for unbiased real information. The people who trust politicians promoting their own agenda are given a biased view of reality. If politicians say testing is bad, the followers believe that to be real. The only way to help these people is to get them to listen to factual sources like the CDC and WHO.

Fortunately, we do have hope. Thankfully state and local governments have been filling the void of responsibility left by the federal government. They have required mask-wearing, limited occupancy in restaurants and stores, and have forced testing even with a lack of materials. Luckily, their leadership has allowed businesses to reopen.

In these trying times, we must remain hopeful, yet more importantly, we should try to help other people. So many are not able to have luxuries like read this article. If you learn one thing from this article, let it be ‘Kindness can only grow.’

Your kindness can feed, house, clothe, and most importantly educate people. All it takes is a little time and you can leave the world better than you found it. Stay safe.”

Renita Abboy and her husband own the communication tool, YoDoc. YoDoc allows patients on a ventilator to communicate with their health care workers and families.

Renita Abboy and her husband own the communication tool YoDoc.
YoDoc allows patients on a ventilator to communicate with their health care workers and families.


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Frequently Asked Questions: Coronavirus Spread

We know that COVID-19 raises a lot of questions. Novel viruses are frightening, and it takes time to get reliable data to inform the decisions we make as both individuals and a nation.

But there are things we do already know about the coronavirus. Let’s dive into some of the most common questions people ask regarding this new, highly-contagious disease.

#1 – What are the first symptoms of the coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“The virus can cause a range of symptoms, ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches. In severe cases difficulty in breathing and deaths can occur.”

#2 – Can you contract the coronavirus disease from a package in the mail?

“Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.”
The same goes for food. So no need to sanitize your mail or carryout.

#3 – Is bleach an effective cleaning agent for the coronavirus disease?

Yes. Bleach solutions can disinfect a surface for 24 hours. When using bleach, however, you should always dilute it to make the solution safer for you and your family. A simple solution formula is to add five tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water.
Going out during this time is an extremely personal decision, and the reasoning will differ from person to person. When it comes to the decision to go out or stay at home, the CDC guidelines offer three particularly helpful points:
  1. In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  2. If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions.
  3. Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a cloth face covering, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, if possible.

If you do decide to go out, we urge you to practice all known protection behaviors, including wearing a mask and keeping a social distance.

#5 – Who should not wear face coverings to prevent coronavirus disease?

There are very few people who should not wear a face mask when in public during the outbreak of COVID-19. Generally, only children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, and anyone who cannot remove a mask on their own should go without a face covering.

#6 – How long does it take to get results for a coronavirus disease test?

Most often, it takes a lab 24 hours to get the results of a COVID-19 test. However, since testing centers and labs are backed up, you might not be able to receive your results for several days. The CDC and other medical agencies are working on tests that provide more rapid results.

Methodology: Measuring Responsible & Preventive Actions

For this study, we looked at more than 15,000 data points from all 50 states across the United States and the District of Columbia to rank the states where people are being the most and least responsible for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

We relied primarily on data from YouGov, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Johns Hopkins University.

YouGov provided data on the percentage of American adults in each state who self-report wearing a face covering whenever they are in public. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) is tracking the average number of people staying at home instead of venturing into public; their research asks:

“How many people are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic? How far are people traveling when they don’t stay home? Which states and counties have more people taking trips?”

The number of coronavirus tests per 100,000 residents is pulled from reports provided by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Johns Hopkins has become the leading organization tracking coronaviruses cases and related data around the world.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6924e1.htm
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/21/880832213/yes-wearing-masks-helps-heres-why
  3. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30460-8/fulltext
  4. https://www.quickquote.com/blog/pandemic-preparation-by-state/#9-south-carolina
  5. https://www.who.int/maldives/news/detail/31-01-2020-updates-on-novel-corona-virus-(COVID-19)
  6. https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/05/08/states-are-more-and-less-likely-adopt-face-masks
  7. https://www.bts.gov/browse-statistical-products-and-data/trips-distance/explore-us-mobility-during-covid-19-pandemic
  8. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/states-comparison
  9. https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/coronavirus-polls/

Americans' COVID-19 Concern Level  (Feb-June '20)
Likelihood of Wearing Masks by State
U.S. Residents Staying Home % Change: March 13 (start) vs. March 29 (peak)
COVID-19 Tests for Every 100k State Residents
Americans' COVID-19 Concern Level  (Feb-June '20)
Likelihood of Wearing Masks by State
U.S. Residents Staying Home % Change: March 13 (start) vs. March 29 (peak)
COVID-19 Tests for Every 100k State Residents