Tulare County barely passes for social distancing

Reggie Ellis

County gets a D minus for not reducing commutes, making extra trips to non-essential services

By Reggie Ellis

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County gets a passing grade when it comes to social distancing but a new report says residents here need to do a better job of passing on extra trips away from home to slow the spread of coronavirus locally.

Unacast, an award-winning location data and analytics firm, launched its Social Distancing Scoreboard last week. The interactive tool assigns a letter grade of A through F to all states and counties in relation to social distancing behavior. Using the change in distance traveled prior to COVID-19 in comparison to present day, areas that observe at least a 70% decrease in average distance traveled are assigned a grade of A, while those that exhibit less than 25% decrease or increase are assigned an F. Letter grades are then compared to the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in those areas to help users draw conclusions between social distancing behavior and virus spread over time.

Tulare County received a D minus overall. The grade represents a 25-40% decrease in distance traveled, such as telecommuting instead of commuting and staycations versus vacations, and less than a 55% decrease in trips to non-essential venues, such as restaurants, retailers, salons, hotels, clothing stores and theatres. The goal, according to Unacast, is to reduce both by more than 70%, an example set by Italy which implemented some of the most stringently enforced shelter in place orders in the world.

The D- was an improvement for Tulare County which received an F on March 23, when it saw a spike of four new cases following the Governor’s shelter-in-place order last month, but had improved to a C minus on March 29 when it had an increase of five new cases as people began working from home and limiting their trips outside the home by half. Social distancing dropped off on April 2 just as Tulare County saw its largest spike in new cases with 29. The tool has a four-day lag time in regards to comparing cases with social distancing data.

Kings County also scored a D- while Kern County got an F. Fresno received the highest grade with a D. California received a B- overall, with a C for the decrease in average mobility (down 40-55%) and a B for the decrease in non-essential visits (down 60-70%).

Unacast created its Real World Graph data engine to help public health experts, policy makers, academics, community leaders and businesses in retail and real estate gain insight into current public behavior and identify trends for future scenarios related to the spread of COVID-19.

“The public response this week has been remarkable and validates our belief that presenting aggregated information on social distancing behavior will help organizations and businesses better understand public behavior in a post COVID-19 world, and is a powerful tool to help mitigate the pandemic spread. 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,” Unacast CEO and co-founder Thomas Walle said. “We are updating the Scorecard and enhancing this COVID-19 Toolkit to provide the most timely and accurate information possible, with the hope of ultimately saving lives.”

Other components of Unacast’s COVID-19 Toolkit that will be available shortly include a Value Impact Tracker that compares traffic patterns in specific places of interest to the news cycle; Origin-Destination Flux, which measures changes in human mobility patterns of larger geographic areas; and Custom Data Analysis for organizations that require specific datasets.

Unacast is developing the Covid-19 Toolkit with public datasets, as well as aggregate mobility and anonymous device data from tens of millions of devices. Unacast’s proprietary technology then extrapolates the results to show trends by county and by state. As with all Unacast technology, the Toolkit follows GDPR and CCPA guidelines.

Unacast was founded in 2014 as a human mobility data company that harnesses anonymous device location data, map data, and strategic intelligence to tackle business challenges for the retail, real estate, tourism, transportation, and marketing industries. The company has offices in New York and Oslo, Norway. In 2019, Unacast was awarded the No. 1 small company to work in NYC by Built In NYC and received Street Fights’ Most Innovative Use of Geospatial Technology award.

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