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Babylon Health

Which cities are most stressed about COVID-19?

The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly causing stress for millions of people across the US, but after analyzing Twitter to tap into local consciousness around the virus, we’ve found that some states and cities are much more stressed than others.

We ran over 155,000 coronavirus-related tweets through a tool called TensiStrength. TensiStrength is designed to detect stress levels in text, analyzing things like spelling, punctuation, and word choice, and we used it to find out the proportion of tweets in every state and major city that register as ‘stressed’ on the tool’s scale.

Here’s what we discovered…

Wyoming is the most stressed about COVID-19, according to Twitter

2 in 5 (40.1%) of the coronavirus-related tweets posted by people in Wyoming registered as stressed. That’s more than any other state.

Twitter users based in Delaware and Mississippi also place highly in our ranking: respectively, 38.8% and 38.7% of COVID-19 tweets in those states registered as stressed.

Top 10 states most stressed by COVID-19

PositionStatePercentage of Stressed Tweets

South Dakota is the least stressed state when it comes to the coronavirus

19.4% of the coronavirus-related tweets posted in South Dakota registered as stressed. That’s the lowest percentage of stressed tweets of any state.

Utah (22.1%) and Vermont (24.8%) come in second and third place respectively in our ranking of the states least stressed about the coronavirus, according to Twitter.

Top 10 states least stressed by COVID-19

PositionStatePercentage of Stressed Tweets
1South Dakota19.40%
10Rhode Island32.50%

Stockton, California is the most stressed about COVID-19

Stockton in California is the most stressed city in the US about the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its Twitter users. 43.7% of the virus-related tweets posted there registered as stressed when analyzed.

Plano in Texas and Naperville and Joliet in Illinois follow in the ranking of the most stressed cities in the country.

Top 10 cities most stressed by COVID-19

PositionStatePercentage of Stressed Tweets
1Stockton, California43.70%
2Plano, Texas40.70%
3Naperville, Illinois40.00%
4Joliet, Illinois40.00%
5Aurora, Illinois39.80%
6Biloxi, Mississippi39.70%
7Tulsa, Oklahoma39.70%
8Portland, Maine39.40%
9Hattiesburg, Mississippi39.10%
10Southaven, Mississippi39.10%

Hawaii and Rhode Island are home to the least coronavirus-stressed cities

East Honolulu, Hawaii and East Providence, Rhode Island rank as the least stressed cities about the coronavirus pandemic, according to Twitter users based there.

For each city, only 16.5% of its coronavirus-related tweets registered as stressed on the scale we used.

Top 10 cities most stressed by COVID-19

PositionStatePercentage of Stressed Tweets
1East Honolulu, Hawaii16.50%
2East Providence, Rhode Island16.50%
3West Jordan, Utah22.60%
4Rio Rancho, New Mexico23.10%
5Topeka, Kansas23.20%
6Olathe, Kansas23.20%
7Overland Park, Kansas23.50%
8South Bend, Indiana24.90%
9South Portland, Maine24.90%
10Sioux Falls, South Dakota24.90%


Our data was gathered from Twitter in real-time using the Tweepy API between May 14th-18th.

Tweets included in the analysis were posted by users situated in the top five most populated cities for each state in the US. We also included all cities that appear on the list of the top 100 most populated cities in the country.

Those tweets each contained at least one of the following terms and were as such considered to relate to COVID-19: ‘quarantine’, ‘corona’, ‘virus’, ‘covid’, ‘self isolation’, ‘social distancing’, ‘pandemic’, ‘epidemic’, ‘vaccine’, ‘mask’, ‘ppe’, ‘ventilator’, ‘antibody’, ‘antibodies’. Over 2.5m tweets were scraped in total, but only 155,177 of those were included in the final analysis.

In order to determine the tweets that were ‘stressed’, we used TensiStrength, a tool developed by Mike Thelwall, Professor of IT at Wolverhampton University (Stress and relaxation magnitude detection for social media texts (PDF)). TensiStrength estimates the stress levels in short texts based on the classification of words in the text related to stress, frustration, anxiety, anger and negativity. The scale used to measure stress levels is approximately as follows: -1 (no stress), -2 (low stress), -3 (moderate stress), -4 (high stress), -5 (extreme stress). For the purposes of our analysis, we considered any tweet registering between -2 and -5 as ‘stressed’.