CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As drivers see a double-digit drop in gas prices over the past month in the Carolinas, analysts say fears of the coronavirus could lower those prices even more.
The average price per gallon of regular gas in South Carolina is $2.11, 25 cents lower than one month ago. In North Carolina, the average price for regular gasoline is $2.25, down 22 cents from a month ago, according to AAA Carolinas.
In the Lowcountry, gas prices are even lower. Gas Buddy showed the lowest price per gallon at $1.93 in Summerville as of Monday afternoon.
The national gas price average is $2.44 per gallon, four cents cheaper than last month.
“Lower crude oil costs, less demand and a high level of gasoline stocks are the main reasons for cheaper pump prices across the Carolinas,” AAA spokesperson Tiffany Wright said. “We expect prices to decrease again this week especially if concerns about the coronavirus continue to weigh on the crude oil market.”
Meanwhile, crude prices dropped for the third consecutive week as market concerns continue to increase over the coronavirus. As international travel decreases, global crude demand would likely follow suit and result in lower crude consumption worldwide.
The drop in price slowed a bit last week, AAA says, as OPEC members announced they were considering deeper production cuts to offset demand. OPEC and its partners will meet in early March to review their current production agreement, but it could meet sooner as the global health crisis grows.
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The acting head of U.S. Homeland Security says the U.S. is taking the necessary steps to protect Americans with a “multilayered strategy” at air, land and maritime ports of entry to stem the spread of the new virus.
Secretary Chad Wolf said the U.S. is now funneling flights from China to 11 airports, including any individual who has been in China in the last 14 days, to ensure they get medical screening and medical care. If needed, potentially affected individuals may be government-quarantined or self-quarantined.
Wolf said the three major U.S. air carriers over the past several weeks have all but ceased flights from China, so those incoming flights are mostly Chinese airlines carrying mostly U.S. citizens.