While some businesses remain closed, most noticeably barbers and salons, a good chunk of the economy in Mississippi either never shut down or is in the process of reopening. But at the end of the day, it is the individual who will make the decision on when they are comfortable moving around.
Not an order from state or local governments.
All Americans are traveling more than a month ago according to Apple’s Mobility Charts, which aggregates data from Apple maps. And Mississippians are traveling more than the average American.
Mississippians began to greatly limit travel toward the end of March, down almost 60 percent at one point from a January baseline. Yet over the past weekend, the numbers were above the baseline and have floated up and down over the last week. Right now, travel is down 15 percent from the baseline.
After Mississippians voluntarily distanced themselves for a certain period of time, they then voluntarily made the decision that it was safe to be out and about based on the personal risks surrounding each individual and their family.
And that is why we see these numbers fluctuate, based on personal stories, circumstances, and where you live.
Louisiana, which has one of the highest rates of positive coronavirus cases and deaths in the country, saw a decline that was greater than Mississippi and for a longer period of time. And the data reflects the impact. Travel in Louisiana is down 42 percent from the January baseline, with numbers 20 to 50 percent below the baseline over the past week.
So, a state where the pandemic has had a much larger toll on the citizens sees fewer people traveling. Yes, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has taken a much more draconian push to shut down businesses than Gov. Tate Reeves in Mississippi, but it also shows the effect of personal responsibility and individual choices.
It’s almost as if we can make the best decisions for ourselves.
We see that even within Louisiana. Much like the pandemic hasn’t impacted every state or region of the country the same, it hasn’t impacted every part of Louisiana the same. So while travel is down over 40 percent in Louisiana, it is down almost 70 percent in New Orleans, a city that was among the hardest hit in the country.
Over the past month or so, the decline has been 60 to 80 percent in New Orleans. It’s starting to break some, but not in any large numbers. Again, these are choices individuals are making based on their perceived well-being.
Some economies may open sooner than others, but the economy will truly open when Americans decide they are ready for that to happen. And that will vary among cities, states, and industries.
We never quit going to Walmart or Home Depot. But will Mississippians be back at restaurants on Thursday? We don’t know, but the market will decide if restaurants are really open. Just like restaurants will need to decide if they can be open at half capacity with a host of new regulations.
Even in a state of emergency, the market doesn’t lie.