With more than a third of Americans reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt their mental health, social distancing has proved to be just as stressful as it is necessary.

In light of this, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on the States Where Social Distancing Is Most Difficult.

To identify where social distancing is the hardest, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics. The data set ranges from whether residents have supportive relationships to how much consumers spent on social activities before COVID-19.

Alongside this report, WalletHub also released a Social Distancing Survey, which asked a range of questions from how social distancing makes Americans feel to what protective clothing they wear and how often they go outside. Below, you can see highlights from the report and survey, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

Difficulty of Physical Distancing in California (1=Most Difficult, 25=Avg.):

  • 45th – Share of Residents Who Participate in Local Groups or Organizations
  • 12th – Share of Population Physically Active
  • 38th – Mean Time Spent in Home
  • 38th – Share of Consumer Expenditures Related to Social Activities (pre-COVID-19)
  • 12th – Travel & Tourism Consumer Spending per Capita

Social Distancing Survey

  • Online shopping is a popular stress reliever: 36 million Americans use online shopping as their number one way to cope with social distancing.
  • Nearly half the population still ventures outside: 48 percent of Americans go outside at least once a day while self-quarantining.
  • Women worry more: Women are 40 percent more likely to feel anxious than men due to social distancing.
  • People want to see family most: 34 percent of Americans are most looking forward to seeing family once this is over, more than the amount that are most excited to see friends or go out to eat.
  • Most Americans use masks: 60 percent of Americans are now wearing face masks due to the coronavirus.
  • Physical distancing provides an opportunity to build skills: Almost 29 million Americans are using the social distancing time to learn something new.

The complete survey results can be found by clicking here. 

Q&A with WalletHub

Why is social distancing most difficult in Utah?

“One major reason why social distancing is most difficult in Utah is that the state’s residents spend the second highest amount of leisure time on religious activities in the country,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Utah’s population is involved in many social activities, with 42 percent of the population part of local groups or organizations and 82 percent being physically active, far more than in most other states.”

What would you say to people who think social distancing is too restrictive?

“Social distancing may be unpleasant, but it is effective. The rate of new infections in the U.S. is showing signs of slowing down, and some models predict that we are nearing or have already passed the peak of new cases,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The aggressiveness of the current social distancing policies has helped avoid a worst-case scenario, and it would be unwise to allow things to go back to normal before we’re confident it will not reverse the progress we’ve made so far.”

Are Americans wearing protective clothing?

“Most Americans are heeding the government’s advice to wear protective clothing when going out. Sixty percent of people wear a face mask, which helps to contain droplets from the nose and mouth that might be carrying the disease, and 33 percent wear gloves,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Some people still have not made protective clothing a priority, unfortunately, with 38 percent of people saying they don’t wear anything special.”

How can people manage stress and anxiety caused by social distancing?

“One thing people can do to relieve the stress and anxiety of social distancing is to stay in contact with friends and family. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch virtually, from texting to video calls. People should talk about their feelings with people they trust,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “It’s important for people to maintain their physical health while social distancing by getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and having an exercise regimen.”

For the full report, click here. 


Image Sources

  • Social distancing: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay