On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered that travel be restricted between neighboring Texas and Louisiana, in addition to two other states and four major cities where cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 has been reported in high numbers.
It wasn’t much time for East Texans to stock up on boudin balls or Western Lousianans to sneak in a quick brisket run to the Lone Star State. But the economic effects will go much deeper than the food industry (see analysis below).
Abbott’s earlier order restricted air travel to New Orleans and New York, requiring travelers from those places to self-quarantine for 14 days. The new order expands the ban to ground vehicle travelers if not for “essential activities” and covers the states of California, Louisiana, Washington, and the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami. The quarantine order is in effect for those visiting Texas for essential activities.
Checkpoints have been reported along Interstate Highway 10, and reports are in that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is setting up checkpoints to question drivers in vehicles with Louisiana plates. At least one state, Rhode Island, has ditched state-specific checkpoints, and has expanded the scope to all suspected out-of-state travelers.
From the hip: Fully 118 counties in Texas and all parishes in Louisiana have reported contracted cases of COVID-19 — however serious questions have arisen regarding the legitimacy of Louisiana’s numbers as recently unveiled by The Hayride. If it turns out that books were cooked on COVID-19 cases by the state of Louisiana in order to attract additional funding for state coffers and/or limelight for politicians such as Gov. John Bel Edwards, then those complacent with the overstated facts will have themselves to blame for their quarantine from the Texas economy.
Either way, for right or for wrong, this one’s going to hurt. To put the effects of this order into a little perspective: a Texas Monthly writer observed a couple of years ago that Houston might actually be the biggest city in Louisiana — fighting words for sure, but true in an economic sense. Louisianans are flocking to Texas for jobs and homes and many commute across the border to work in Texas but live in Pelican State (and vice-versa), notably for the many refineries between Houston and Lake Charles. A checkpoint along I-10 can quickly become a chokepoint for the growing interstate economy.
Updated 3:06 p.m.