Data shows some Central Virginia counties are failing at social distancing

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 18:20:47-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some Metro Richmond localities are failing at social distancing compared to their rural neighbors, according to data collected by Unacast.

CEO Thomas Walle helped co-found the data analysis company in Norway five years ago. Since then, Unacast seized the opportunity during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how people move around on the planet.

“We saw how governors and mayors were enforcing shelter in place across the country as well as social distancing guidelines,” Walle told CBS 6 via Zoom on Tuesday.

Analysts utilize location data that is tracked anonymously through a network of cell phone applications. The company uses that data to figure out how far people travel, where they’re going, and how often people are interacting with each other.

Unacast then aggregates the data on a public facing dashboard called the Social Distancing Scoreboard. They compare the recent data to information gathered during the start of the pandemic.

Each state and county in the United States is given a grade between A and F.

"If you look at how the US and certain states are acting and their mobility patterns — we are failing," Walle explained.

On Tuesday, both the United States and Virginia earned a “D-“ grade. The City of Richmond received a “D.”

But Henrico and Chesterfield Counties both received “F” or failing grades. The data showed that the counties have a less than a 55% reduction in non-essential visits and a less than 40% decrease in encounters.

Several rural counties closest to Metro Richmond earned passing “B” grades including Nottoway, Amelia and Cumberland.

Most of the Southern states like North Carolina, South Carolina and George all received failing grades.

Walle and his team created the dashboard to create awareness around social distancing.

“A lot mayors and governor have been using our public facing dashboard on a daily basis,” he stated. “Hospitals and research firms have been using this to calculate the capacity of hospital beds.”

Virginia Department of Health reported 240,063 positive COVID-19 cases in Virginia on Tuesday, which is an increase of 2,228 from Monday. More than 14,000 Virginians were hospitalized due to the coronavirus (Up 106 from Monday).