10 States That Were "Irresponsible" About Coronavirus, Study Says

Experts rank states on face mask usage, number of people staying home, and tests per capita.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit every state in the United States—but it hasn't hit every state the same. At the beginning of the pandemic in March, New York was the country's epicenter. But as the months have progressed, things have shifted. According to a study commissioned by The Truth About Insurance using data from from YouGov, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Johns Hopkins University, New York is now the best state when it comes handling the pandemic. Unfortunately, other states can't say the same. Looking at face mask usage, the number of people staying home, and tests per capita, these are the 10 states that have been "irresponsible" about their coronavirus prevention. And for more states struggling, check out The 4 States You Should Be "Very Worried About" Says Former FDA Chief.


Oklahoma City often shortened to OKC, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.

Only about 37 percent of adult Oklahomans don a face mask when out in public. However, their biggest problem, according to the study, is people "refusing or unable to shelter in place." Only 19.8 percent of people in this state stay home. And for more state statistics, check out the 9 States Where COVID Cases Are Rising Faster Than California and Texas.


Frankfort, Kentucky, USA town skyline on the Kentucky River at dusk.

In all the states mentioned in the study, Kentucky reports the second-lowest percentage of mask wearing at 32 percent. In comparison, the study reports that the northern neighboring state of Illinois has 43 percent of adults wearing masks. This, combined with only 20.7 percent of people staying home, is to blame for Kentucky's irresponsible coronavirus fight.


skyline of st. louis missouri

Nearly 37 percent of Missourians wear masks, which is pretty decent odds compared to other states. However, only 21.4 percent of Missourians are staying at home. And the state is also low in terms of COVID-19 tests—only giving about 5,338 tests per 100,000 residents.

South Dakota

Rapid City is the second most populous city in South Dakota and the county seat of Pennington County

South Dakota is administering the most tests per capita out of the 10 most irresponsible states, at around 8,150 tests per 100,000 residents. However, the state's other statistics are less than great. Only 32 percent of South Dakotans are wearing masks in public and only 19.5 percent are staying home. Gov. Kristi Noem has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate, saying that "South Dakota is not New York City."


mobile alabama skyline

Though 38 percent of Alabamans are committed to wearing masks in public, they're not so committed to sheltering in place. Only 17 percent of Alabamans stay home, which makes them the state with the fewest people staying home. And that's even with Gov. Kay Ivey's "Safer at Home" order extended through July 31, which study author D. Gilson, PhD, says is "not much of an order and issues some of the laxest guidelines of any order across the nation."


Indianapolis, Indiana, USA downtown cityscape on the White River at dusk.

Indiana's statistics are pretty average when it comes to the most irresponsible states, which is why it's in the middle of the study's list. The state has 36 percent of adults wearing masks in public, but only 20.1 percent staying home, and 6,454 tests per 100,000 people.


cleveland ohio skyline

Ohio has the highest population out of the most irresponsible states (11.69 million), but one of the lowest rates of testing per capita. The state is only able to test around 5,823 people per 100,000. On top of that, their other statistics are also on the lower side, with 33 percent wearing masks and 21.2 percent staying home. And for more on wearing masks, You Can No Longer Shop at These Popular Stores Without a Face Mask.


boise idaho skyline

Idaho is breaking out as one of the new states to worry about, according to new statistics. The state's positive test rate is five times higher than it was 30 days ago and hospitalizations are up 780 percent since June 15. On top of that, only 31 percent of adults are wearing masks in the state and only 22 percent are staying home—numbers that may not be enough to offset the state's rising outbreak.


springtime view in downtown Topeka, Kansas, USA

According to Gilson, Kansas is "lagging behind most other states" when it comes to responsibly fighting the coronavirus spread. Around a fifth of the state is staying home and less than a third are wearing a mask when out in public. And their testing rate is low, as well, with only 5,554 tests given per 100,000 residents. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

South Carolina

charleston south carolina from above

South Carolina is the most irresponsible state when it comes to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, according to this study. Testing rates are fairly high in the state for the list, with 6,259 residents being tested per 100,000. And face mask usage is not too bad either, with 37 percent of adults reportedly wearing masks in public. However, the amount of people staying home is extremely low at only 18.3 percent, which is "leading to some of the worst coronavirus stats in the nation," Gilson says.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Filed Under