April 3, 2020


Today, New York Times journalist and podcast host Michael Barbaro tweeted a map showing on the dates when people stopped traveling over two miles. Most of the South was lit up bright red, an indication that they hadn’t stopped until very recently, if at all. Other states had red counties, but it was hard to ignore the blaring siren of the South.

In the midst of a pandemic where folks are encouraged to stay home, this chart could seem damning, especially if you think the South is full of idiot rednecks.

Which Barbaro apparently does.

“In a word…. The South,” he tweeted. . . .

As Facing South reporter Olivia Paschal points out, the map makes more sense when viewed with the second map in the Times article in which it originally appeared, which showed that the Southern states in question had seen less travel than what was considered “normal.”

The Times story delves into this further: Southern municipalities and states have been slow to implement stay-at-home orders. But Southerners are traveling less. And the map doesn’t account for necessary travel, like to get groceries or seek medical care.

Barbaro didn’t mention that. “LOL rednecks” is an easier tweet.

There are nine states where more than 5 percent of the population has no car and no supermarket within a mile. North Carolina is one of them; the rest are also in the South.

Almost 28 million people in the South live in rural areas, almost half of the country’s rural population. Because of the spread, people in rural areas have the longest distances to travel to receive medical care. And the South, the sickest region in the United States, accounts for one in 10 COVID-19 deaths.

Some other facts Barbaro might have missed: The South has the lowest median household income of any region in the U.S; nine of the 10 states with the highest poverty levels are from the South.

The South also has the biggest minority population of any region.

A quick Google search reveals that Michael Barbaro grew up in Connecticut, attended one of the oldest country day schools in the country, and went to Yale University. He got a job at The Washington Post straight out of college and shifted to The New York Times shortly after that.

So let me offer a real-life example: My house growing up was in downtown Mount Airy, and the closest Food Lion was 1.3 miles away. If my family needed more than food, Walmart was 4.3 miles away. If we had to go to the ER, it was 2.2 miles. For folks who live farther out, the shortest distance you can travel is at least two miles.

I promise you, Michael Barbaro, they aren’t driving for the hell of it.

It’s as if Michael Barbaro is some sort of elitist twatwaffle. But yeah, those dumb southerners don’t know how to practice social distancing like these New Yorkers:

In a word . . . NYC.

UPDATE: This photo from ABC7NY wasn’t taken on Thursday, as reported. Apparently it’s from March 30, which was Monday. Not a huge difference, but still.

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