Social distancing improves but South Dakotans are still on the move, data analysis shows Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota got a better grade recently in terms of social distancing.

Unacast’s social distancing scoreboard gave the state a C- as of Nov. 30. That’s an improvement over the D+ on Oct. 11 and higher than the D- given in April.

But residents are still taking too many long trips so it gets a D in that category. The state has a 20% to 40% reduction in distance traveled. South Dakotans are still taking too many non-essential trips, according to Uncast. The state gets an F for a less than 55% reduction in non-essential trips.

Local and national health officials and public officials in Sioux Falls urged South Dakota residents to have smaller Thanksgiving gatherings and reduce travel during Thanksgiving week.

Based on data from the University of Maryland’s COVID-19 Impact Analysis Platform, a portion of the state’s residents kept their distance last week. The platform measures social distancing, percentages of population working from home, types of trips and other mobility data.

The state’s social distancing score was 52 as of Nov. 26. A zero means no one is social distancing while 100 means all are social distancing. The score was 24 on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The state scored a 31 for the week of Nov. 16-21, before Thanksgiving. The Maryland platform said 36% of South Dakotans stayed home that week.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 26, South Dakotans made 3.35 trips per person while the state scored a 28 in social distancing and 26% of the population stayed home.

Traffic data from five major intersections in Sioux Falls shows Thanksgiving was a slow traffic day. The traffic index was .44 for that day. But some streets were busier a few days before Thanksgiving and on the Friday and Saturday after. The traffic index popped to .89 on Nov. 27 and .82 on Nov. 28. It was .96 on Nov. 24 and .95 on Nov. 25.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has been a traditionally busy holiday shopping day.

A major intersection in the midst of strip malls and a shopping center is 41st Street and Louise Avenue. On Friday, Nov. 27, 58,972 vehicles passed through that intersection, according to traffic data from the city of Sioux Falls. Another 50,279 did the next day.

On Tuesday, Nov. 24, 60,180 vehicles passed through the intersection. The traffic topped 60,000 vehicles on Nov. 7 (60,336) and Nov. 6 (61,052). To compare, traffic counts passed 60,000 on Thursday, Oct. 22 (63,073) and Friday, Oct. 23 (62,699).

On Nov. 27, 31,475 vehicles passed through the 26th Street and Lorraine Drive intersection. Another 28,728 did so on Nov. 27.

The University of Maryland’s mobility platform said the state’s social distancing score on Nov. 25 was 24, which corresponds to upticks in vehicle counts at 41st Street and Louise Avenue (56,774), and 26th Street and Lorraine Drive (32,064) on that day.

Traffic increased around Thanksgiving this year but the state’s mobility in terms of retail shopping and recreation is not the same as the baseline established before the pandemic, according to Google’s mobility data.

The state had a 7% decline in retail shopping and recreation compared to the baseline, according to Google’s Nov. 27 report. The University of Maryland reported a 4.4% increase in consumer consumption from Nov. 1 to Nov. 26 compared to the pre-pandemic baseline. The consumption percentage is not broken down into category as does Google. The consumption could include groceries, restaurants, retail and the like.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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