The 10 States With the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions

A happy couple runs off to explore the outdoors during the coronavirus crisis
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The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines for months now, and many states still are trying to figure out how to best deal with the situation.

Because every state is responding to the coronavirus in its own way, restrictions differ from location to location. WalletHub completed an analysis of the situation in every state, and the following are the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions.

10. Iowa

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Total score: 58.37 out of 100

Iowa began reopening on May 8, with some businesses allowed to begin operating again, as long as they observe certain guidelines. After seeing a peak in Iowans testing positive for the coronavirus on April 29, cases generally have been falling, although there have been occasional spikes in positive case reports, especially near the end of May.

Fortunately, more than 95% of Iowa residents had health insurance as of 2018, the latest year for which the U.S. Census Bureau has released state-level data. That ranked Iowa No. 6 in the nation, as we detail in “18 States With the Highest Rates of Health Insurance.”

9. North Dakota

A hiker in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
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Total score: 59.54 out of 100

North Dakota began allowing restaurants to reopen their doors on May 1, with safety rules put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. The number of new cases per day of the coronavirus disease peaked in the state May 20 and generally has been falling since. The state reports most of its cases are due to close contact and community exposure.

Another upside of weathering the pandemic in North Dakota: relatively good unemployment insurance for those who lose their jobs. A recent analysis ranked the state No. 8 in the nation, a tie with Colorado, for its maximum annualized benefits, as we report in “The Most Unemployment You Can Get in Every State Since COVID-19.”

8. Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona
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Total score: 59.77 out of 100

Arizona’s stay-at-home order ended on May 15, and businesses that were not considered “essential” — including gyms, pools, restaurants and others — have been reopening since then.

Arizona reported its highest daily number of positive COVID-19 cases on May 15, and its reported cases per day have been declining since.

7. Montana

Livingston, Montana
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Total score: 66.98 out of 100

Montana is moving into phase two of its reopening plan on June 1, which will end the 14-day quarantine on those traveling there from out of state. While some businesses have been open during phase one, they have operated at a much-reduced capacity. Phase two will allow them to operate at 75% capacity.

Montana has generally seen a decline in COVID-19 cases since a peak was reported near the end of March.

6. Wyoming

Excelsior Geyser Crater
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Total score: 68.72 out of 100

Wyoming’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors ended May 8, and the state extended its turkey hunting season, as well as began selling fishing licenses again on May 9. Bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 15.

Wyoming reports of coronavirus include 22 lab-confirmed cases on April 1, with some decrease in daily reports to 19 lab-confirmed cases on May 4. Numbers have been lower since then.

5. Utah

Saint George, Utah
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Total score: 68.84 out of 100

Utah is in a state of reopening, and two of its universities, Utah State University and the University of Utah, say they will accept on-campus students in the fall.

Reports of positive coronavirus cases appear to have peaked at the end of April, but the case count might be rising again, and the state warns that some illnesses might not yet be reported.

4. Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri
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Total score: 69.07 out of 100

Missouri began its phased reopening May 4, but some of the restrictions remained in place in St. Louis and St. Louis County. However, there are fears of community spread after crowding at a pool party in the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend in defiance of social distancing orders, and some leaders are urging those visitors to quarantine for two weeks or until a negative test.

While there was a peak in cases in the state on May 1, the number of cases might be trending higher after dipping to a low point on May 10.

3. Idaho

Boise, Idaho
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Total score: 71.16 out of 100

Idaho is scheduled to move from its Stage 2 of reopening to Stage 3 of reopening on May 30. The state began reopening on May 1. Idaho expects its requirement for out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine will be lifted during Stage 3, which ends June 12.

However, Idaho’s governor has experienced pushback from groups in Idaho, and many groups continue to hold gatherings in defiance of regulations. The daily case report count appears to have peaked near the start of April and has trended lower since then.

2. Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, over Lake Monona
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Total score: 73.95 out of 100

In Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court threw out an extended safer-at-home order on May 13 and pretty much put the onus of reopening guidelines on businesses and localities.

Newly reported cases seem to be leveling off in the state, though an increase was seen in the waning days of May.

1. South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota
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Total score: 86.74 out of 100

Casinos were allowed to open over the weekend of May 8. Reports show increased numbers of people showing up to participate, including folks driving to South Dakota from surrounding states to stay at hotel casinos in Deadwood. Social distancing rules were in effect at casinos, and masks were advised but not required except for dealers who could not maintain a 6-foot separation.

Cases were trending down during the first half of May after a spike in the first week of the month.

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