How ready is the U.S. for the safe return of in-person events? To quote Bon Jovi, one of the top touring acts of the year before COVID, we're halfway there. That's according to experiential brand agency Jack Morton's just-launched Recovery Index, which weights pandemic-related factors to compute a 1-to-10-scale readiness score by county, state and the nation as a whole, where the current index for the U.S. stands at 4.7 – meaning the country is nearly halfway to the point where Americans can begin safely restarting live events.
The index, as reported in AdAge, takes into account the level of virus spread, vaccination rates, market demographics, level of consumer mobility to retail and recreational locales, and comfort with social closeness and re-engaging in shared experiences, whether at the national, state and county level.
Based on Recovery Index measurements taken earlier this month, the five states closest to a complete return of live events – Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota – score an average index of 8.68. On the other end of the spectrum, Arizona and Louisiana, with 1.0 scores, are least prepared for in-person events to come back, with Alabama, Texas and North Carolina close behind. “There is still a lot of disparity as you zoom in on the map,” Scott Varland, Senior VP and head of Jack X North America, the agency’s innovation practice, says. “The data and the empirical evidence are trending in the right direction, but we still need to carefully review location and context.”
According to the agency, high-indexing states typically have new daily and weekly case rates below the national average and adult vaccination rates of 50% or higher, with a positive correlation between states with high scores and those with mask mandates still in place or that have only recently been lifted. Conversely, most states with lower scores either never had a mask mandate or removed it prior to the release of the CDC’s revised recommendations.
Morton's index also found that consumers and brands are ready to return to in-person experiences, with 81% of brands surveyed planning to host at least partially live events by the third quarter of 2021 and 87% by Q4.