Why Are Idahoans Traveling More Now Than a Week Ago?
No, seriously. We don't know the answer. We want you to explain yourselves.
Last week, we shared the new Unacast Social Distancing Scorecard with you. The location data company is handing out a social distancing letter grade to every county and every state in the United States. They're determining those grades by examining GPS data from cell phones that shows how far people are traveling on a daily basis and comparing that data to how far we were traveling before the coronavirus pandemic reached our country.
When we broke down the letter grades for Canyon and Ada Counties, the data on the map hadn't been updated since Sunday, March 22. At that time dine in restaurants in Nampa, Caldwell and Garden City were still running like it was business as usual. Meridian's restaurants were open, but limiting parties to 10 people or less and seating them further apart to follow Mayor Simison's social distancing ordinance.
We checked back in with the map on Sunday morning and saw a disheartening trend. Not only did the most recent scorecard give the Gem State a big fat "F," as of Tuesday, March 24...Idahoans were actually traveling 12% more than they were on Friday, March 20! That update also named us the worst state in the nation when it comes to social distancing.
We will note that the most recent data on the map is from 24 hours before Governor Little issued the statewide "Stay Home" order...so we're hoping the next update will show a dramatic drop in daily travel with non-essential businesses closed.
Based on some of the responses our listeners had to our article about the county grades, you're not surprised. Many of you noticed that even as more positive cases are confirmed in Idaho, people are trying to find ways to cheat the recommended guidelines put in place to help try to flatten the curve sooner rather than later.
Because I'm trying to follow the guidelines to a "T", I didn't see that with my own two eyes until this weekend. Even though all of my spring/summer races have been canceled, I'm still running to burn off some anxiety and escape from the news for a few minutes...but I'm following the recommendation to recreate near my home rather than flock to the trail heads or Greenbelt.
My run on Saturday took me past Baggley Park in Southeast Boise and I quickly noticed the basketball court there was packed with people. These folks weren't six feet apart, they were guarding each other like it was an NBA playoff game. I couldn't help but to feel disappointed that people are trying to cheat the system, which means we could end up in this period of suck for even longer than originally projected. 😕
Can't we all just stay home, watch Tiger King and make it a team effort to get back to normal sooner rather than later?