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Outcome in Georgia After Reopenings: 'Not Unpredictable'

Tourists from neighboring states are flocking there in droves, worrying researchers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2020 6:43 AM CDT
Outcome in Georgia After Reopenings: 'Not Unpredictable'
A Waffle House restaurant is seen on April 27, 2020, in Savannah, Ga., as restaurants statewide were allowed to resume dine-in service with restrictions.   (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

(Newser) – University of Maryland researchers keeping tabs on Georgia as it reopens during the pandemic say one outcome is "not an unpredictable one." The Washington Post reports that the scientists, using smartphone data that tracks user location, found that in the week after the state flung the doors back open on April 24 on salons, dine-in restaurants, and other businesses, a daily average of 546,159 tourists from other states flocked there. That was 62,440 more people daily than in the previous week—a 13% increase. Most of the travelers came from Georgia's closest neighbors, including Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. That data tracks with what the researchers found elsewhere in the US, indicating that "the partial reopening orders in some states have prompted a sharp increase in mobility behavior and decreasing social distancing," the lead researcher tells CNN.

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The scientists fear this desire of people in more restricted areas to visit less restrictive ones—especially in areas like DC and New York City, where people regularly cross state lines for work and leisure—could prolong the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Fox News reports on a bumpy start to reopening at Atlanta's Cumberland Mall. On Tuesday, the first day the mall was open again, cell phone video taken outside the mall shows a brawl among three women that a security guard tries to break up. During the scuffle, a man suddenly "fly-kicks" one of the women taking part in the fight in the chest. He then picks up one of the other women and leaves. Only the security guard is seen wearing a mask. "If people don't know how to come out their home and act ... then stay home. ... This is a stressful time," a local tells CBS46. (Read more Georgia stories.)

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