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Spike in Florida coronavirus cases may mean lower gas prices

Ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, gas prices remained flat in Florida.

Gas prices in Florida remained flat ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Prices at the pump averaged $2.03 per gallon Monday, up just one cent from the same time last week, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay prices fell just shy of the $2 mark at $1.99 per gallon on average, down one cent from last week.

The recent wave of new COVID-19 cases around the state may keep prices down through the week, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

“State numbers suggest demand is holding steady, but market analysts worry about an eventual downturn,” he said. “With wholesale prices turning lower, it’s possible drivers will begin to see slightly lower prices at the pump this week.”

Oil dropped about 5 percent to just under $38.50 per barrel Friday as concern mounted over how infection rates could affect the number of Americans on the roads. Current gas prices in Florida are about 51 cents lower on average than this time last year.

Tampa Bay tied Orlando for the second-lowest gas prices among Florida metro areas, both just a cent more than Punta Gorda and Fort Myers, which averaged $1.98 per gallon Monday.

Related: AAA study finds Florida residents changing travel plans during pandemic

The pandemic dampened travel plans for many Floridians. A recent survey from AAA found that nearly 40 percent of Floridians canceled a planned summer trip with no plans to reschedule it, while just under 60 percent expect to take fewer trips this summer because of the virus.

“The majority say it will take some time before they feel comfortable traveling like they used to,” Jenkins said.

According to the AAA survey, a third of Floridians said they would be comfortable taking a short-distance road trip, but just 23 percent said they would feel comfortable staying in a hotel.

Nationally, gas averaged $2.18 per gallon Monday.

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