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County scores below state average on social distancing, in the middle of the pack with neighboring counties

When it comes to COVID-19, it’s important to know the score. For Lincoln County, the score is 32.

Lincoln County residents practiced social distancing slightly below the state average over the last two months of the coronavirus pandemic, but still better than some neighboring counties, according to research by the Maryland Transportation Institute through the University of Maryland’s COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform.

Locally, there have been five cases of COVID-19 reported in the county, which is listed with a population of 24,600. Neighboring counties have varied drastically, with Casey County reporting one case, while Pulaski County has reported 45 cases. Population of those counties also vary, with Casey County listing a population of less than 16,000, while Pulaski County lists a population of nearly 65,000.

Other surrounding counties with reported COVID-19 cases include Garrard with four cases (17,500 residents), Rockcastle with 11 cases (16,700 residents), and Boyle with 19 reported cases of the virus and 30,000 residents.

The research examined states and counties across the country, looking at areas such as travel and percentage of people staying home. For each county and state, the IAP determined a Social Distancing Index.

The Social Distancing Index is a number between 0 and 100 that represents the extent to which residents and visitors are practicing social distancing. A score of “0” indicates no social distancing is observed in the community, while “100” indicates all residents are staying at home and no visitors are entering the county. It is computed by an equation that takes into account the percentage of people staying home, the reduction of all trips compared to pre-COVID-19 benchmarks, the reduction in work trips and non-work trips, as well as the reduction of out-of-county trips and the reduction of travel distance.

The COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform provides data and insight on COVID-19’s impact on mobility, health, economy, and society for all states and counties with daily data updates. Metrics are produced based on validated computational algorithms and privacy-protected data from mobile devices, government agencies, healthcare systems, and other sources.

Lincoln County’s Social Distancing Index for the time period between March 1 and May 1 was 32. The Social Distancing Index for the state of Kentucky during the same time period was 38. Some neighboring counties did better, with Boyle (39) and Pulaski (34) coming in ahead of Lincoln County, while Garrard (30), Rockcastle (29), and Casey (28) all came in with lower scores.

The platform reports that 22% of Lincoln County residents are staying home during the pandemic in that same time frame, and 37% of those who have traveled have taken out-of-county trips. Those trips average 35.7 miles each, and the platform data reports that the average person averages 3 trips each that are not work related.

In the early stages of the pandemic, Lincoln Countians were not as careful, according to the platform. In the week of March 1-8, only 18% of the county’s residents were practicing social distancing, and just 17% were staying at home. Trips were also up, with citizens reportedly taking 3.9 trips each, and 39% of those being outside Lincoln County. Residents traveled an average of 42.6 miles for those trips, according to the platform. These numbers show that Lincoln Countians reacted to the pandemic, and began to be more careful as the crisis wore on.