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COVID-19 Physical Distancing Scorecard

Physical distancing is the single most important factor in reducing unnecessary deaths in our community and preventing our hospitals from being overwhelmed by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is what’s happening in places like New York, New Orleans and Detroit.

How the Appalachian Highlands is doing

We have had a small advantage in that our geography has protected us from early spread of the disease. But that advantage has rapidly evaporated.

Hundreds of COVID-19 cases are now confirmed in the Appalachian Highlands, and this number grows each day. We know many more cases exist that have not yet been detected. Many individuals infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms yet are still spreading the disease unknowingly.

Physical distancing report for the region

For this reason, Ballad Health will be producing a regular report on the effectiveness of physical distancing efforts in the Appalachian Highlands.

View the Report

Anonymous data analysis

The attached maps and tables are our analysis of anonymous cell phone data from two sources: Descartes Labs and Google.*

  • The top map and table report changes in total distance travelled in each county relative to a three-week average period prior to the start of physical distancing efforts.
  • The bottom map and table data describe changes in number of visits and time spent at locations Google has categorized as “Retail & Recreation,” which includes locations such as restaurants, cafes, shopping, libraries and movie theaters.

Lagging behind other parts of the U.S.

Our analysis of other communities that are successfully stopping the spread of the disease suggests we must target a goal of reducing our travel and physical contacts by 75% for multiple weeks.

We are lagging behind other parts of the U.S. in our physical distancing efforts – especially in reducing the number of visits and time spent at non-essential locations.

No county in our region has decreased non-essential visit activity by more than 45%. And most counties have reduced non-essential visit activity by less than 25%.

This is not enough to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Reducing physical contacts, not social contacts

We can reduce our physical contacts without reducing our social contacts.

  • Churches are now hosting online services.
  • Families and friends are group video messaging.
  • Restaurants are doing curbside pick-up.
  • More business is being done by phone and email from home than ever before.
  • We are exercising at home or outside rather than at a gym.

We need to do even more of this.

Let’s keep improving!

Ballad Health will regularly publish this scorecard. We’ve improved in just a few weeks and can improve even more going forward!

We encourage you to take stay-at-home orders by the governors of Tennessee and Virginia seriously.

The more aggressively we stop the spread, the sooner we should be on the path to recovery.

*Google publishes its data publicly here.