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National gas prices are lower right now, thanks to coronavirus fears

While the coronavirus is upending travel and walloping stocks, the widespread respiratory illness has also lead to cheaper prices at the pump.

Over the past three weeks, with China largely shut down and fewer people traveling, gas prices in the U.S. have fallen 6 cents per gallon, according to data compiled by the fuel price platform GasBuddy. 

As of Wednesday, the national average sits at $2.41, which is $1.70 less than the highest recorded average of $4.11 set in July 2008. A gallon of gas currently costs under $2 at more than 3,000 gas stations in the U.S., according to GasBuddy. 

The app’s senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says the spreading respiratory illness has triggered a drop in global demand that could benefit domestic motorists for weeks to comes.

“Tens of thousands of flights have been canceled, people have been told to stay from school and work, and now that’s spreading,” DeHaan said. “What you’re seeing is a reduction in oil demand globally that has pushed the price of oil down.”

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The lower price of crude oil, which gasoline is made from, translates into lower prices at the pump. 

A person fueling their car with gasoline.

Currently, southern states like Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are paying the least for gas, with per gallon averages hovering around $2.01. The West Coast is paying the most. The average in California and Washinton sits just above $3.

Distance from supply, taxes and retail competition contributes to regional price differences. However, per gallon prices have fallen in nearly every state in recent weeks, according to Gasbuddy.

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