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Mass. Transportation Chief Reports Vehicle Travel Is Up, Says 'Quarantine Fatigue' May Be Why

Massachusetts has not reopened the businesses that it ordered closed in late March, but residents are starting to get out and about more as potential cases of "quarantine fatigue" set in, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Monday.

Pollack said travel is generally down 50 to 70% in Massachusetts and said the Department of Transportation and the governor's reopening advisory board are using a new data set — a county-by-county estimate of vehicle miles traveled — to track travel and understand how travel is being affected by the pandemic.

"This actually estimates even deeper reductions in travel ... indicating a 70 to 80 percent statewide reduction in travel from a baseline in January," Pollack, who serves on the reopening advisory board, said Monday during a joint meeting of the MassDOT Board of Directors and MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board.

But that same data set also shows that Massachusetts residents resumed some travel recently. April 27 saw roughly 27.28 million vehicles miles traveled, which was about 70 to 90% below the average day in January depending on county. One week later, May 4, saw 41.62 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of more than 50 percent from April 27.

"We do seem to see the beginning of travel. We will obviously get the data for all of last week soon and we'll see if that continues," Pollack said. "There is a phenomenon that has been dubbed 'quarantine fatigue' in which people are sort of getting tired of being home. This may indicate that we are seeing some quarantine fatigue, because we are seeing an uptick in travel even though we have not begun to open the Massachusetts economy."

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