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EVANSTON – Wyoming gets an F in social distancing practices.

National data company Unacast has utilized cellphone location data to rank every state in the nation on social distancing practices in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 25, Wyoming was the only state in the country to earn an F grade.

The average grade of all 50 states is a B.

The grades are based on measures like how many cellphone signals are gathered in one place at the same time, changes in average travel distances and how much time people are spending at home.

Within Wyoming, 14 of the state’s 23 counties also earned F’s.

As the importance of social distancing to prevent rapid increases in the number of people seeking health care for COVID-19 continues to be stressed, the data showing county residents are not following the guidance of expert health professionals is cause for concern.

Globally, the number of cases is increasing exponentially.

So far, there have been no deaths reported in Wyoming and at least five of the reported Wyoming cases have recovered.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has now issued three orders closing various public spaces. In addition, during a Wednesday news conference, Gordon pleaded with Wyoming citizens to stay home except for when necessary to venture out.

He emphasized that, “voluntary actions and discipline are going to make the difference as to whether we can slow the spread of COVID-19,” and stressed that “public participation could alleviate the need to implement more stringent measures.”

Approximately one billion people globally have been ordered to stay at home or shelter in place, which includes millions of residents of 21 states, including neighboring Idaho and Colorado.

To understand what is meant by social distancing, it is helpful to compare it to other terms being frequently used during the pandemic.

The following information is taken from Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

• Social Distancing: Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. The recommended practice is to remain at least 6 feet away from all people other than members of your immediate household.

• Self-Quarantine: Individuals who may have been exposed to the virus may be asked to self-quarantine, which means staying home, not sharing towels or utensils with anyone in the household, not having visitors, practicing good hygiene and staying at least 6 feet away from everyone, including people in the household.

• Isolation: Those with confirmed illness will be asked to isolate at home unless hospitalization is required for severe illness. Isolation involves staying completely removed from everyone, eating and sleeping separately, using a separate bathroom and generally having no contact with anyone unless medical assistance is necessary.

While it may be tempting to visit family or friends or allow children to have play dates with a couple of neighborhood kids, every single contact creates a chain that could spread illness.

For those working in essential businesses, it is advisable to wash hands or use hand sanitizer multiple times a day and upon leaving work and returning home.

It is also recommended to change clothes after returning home.

For visits to the grocery store, it is important to maintain 6 feet of distance between other shoppers, shop only for necessities and try to make a list to get all needed items in one trip every 10 days or so rather than make repeated visits to the store.

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