Multiple online tools have been developed to provide a glimpse into how Idahoans have responded to the state’s shelter-in-place order, made to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Unacast.com grades American states and counties on their commitment to social distancing based on location data from electronic devices, while the Idaho Transportation Department introduced a traffic-tracking online tool recently.
Unacast gives both Idaho and Bannock County a C- grade overall, the same as the United States, as of Tuesday.
Idaho was given a D grades for distance traveled and and F for non-essential visits. But it was also given an A for encounters with people — a recently added category that factors in the circumstances of rural areas better according to the location data company.
Bannock County is graded as a C in distance traveled, F in non-essential travel and B in encounters with people.
The rest of the Southeast Idaho counties were graded as follows: Franklin (B-), Caribou (B-), Butte (B-), Power (C), Bear Lake (C), Oneida (C) and Bingham (C-).
Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director Maggie Mann graded her region positively.
“The vast majority of the people in our communities have really taken the intent of the isolation order to heart,” Mann said. “They have done well in following it and that’s reflected in the low incidence of the disease or presence of the disease in our eight-county area.
“But what is important for people to understand is it’s going to be important to continue those distancing measures for the next period of time to make sure that we don’t have a sudden jump in the spread of the virus.”
Mann does not think locals will struggle with social distancing when the temperature rises and people have more inclination to leave their homes.
“One of the great things about living where we live is that it’s possible to get outside and still not be around other people,” Mann said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do is limit interaction with people outside of our household.”
As of Tuesday, Lemhi County was the highest rated county in Idaho with an A-.
Canyon County is the only one in the state to receive an F.
You can assess the grades at: www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard.
“It’s one tool that gives us a little bit of insight of how mobile people are being,” Mann said. “But it’s just one tool and many of our counties are very rural in nature, so we’re looking at small numbers. And any time you’re working with smaller numbers, you have to sort of interpret those numbers through that lens.”
The Idaho Transportation Department’s online traffic-tracking tool can be assessed at bit.ly/3aDx4XP.
ITD stated in a press release this preliminary traffic volume data will be useful for government agencies, emergency services and the public.
“This will provide information closer to real-time than our traditional measurements,” stated Margaret Pridmore, ITD roadway data manager, in a press release. “That information is helpful as decision-makers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”