As residents hunker down in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, gas prices have plunged to the lowest they've been in years in Northwest Indiana amid a historic collapse nationally that's been even steeper than during the Great Recession.

The average price of gasoline in the Gary metro area, which encompasses most of Northwest Indiana, totaled $1.83 a gallon Wednesday, according to GasBuddy.com. That's down 57 cents a gallon as compared to the average price in February and 92 cents a gallon as compared to the same time last year.

The average price of gasoline in the Michigan City-LaPorte metro area totaled $1.78 a gallon Wednesday, down nearly 66 cents from a month ago and 78 cents from the same time last year.

It's the first time gas prices have dipped on average under $2 a gallon in Northwest Indiana since January 2019, according to GasBuddy.com.

Many Region streets were empty Wednesday after Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a stay at home order that restricted travel to essential trips, including to the grocery store, medical facilities, or work deemed essential by the state.

People all across the country have been practicing social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 460,000 people across the globe. The number of deaths worldwide has nearly tripled over the nine days to more than 20,800.

A result is that gas prices across the county have seen a historically steep plunge to an average of $2.08 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. Gasoline prices have fallen for four straight weeks and oil prices plummeted to about $20 a barrel last week.

“Gas prices have spent virtually all of March marching lower, with the drop continuing as the coronavirus destroys oil demand globally, leading to the lowest oil prices we’ve seen in 18 years, paving the way for still an additional 35-75 cent per gallon drop at most stations in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession. What we’re witnessing is easily going to go down as the great collapse in oil demand, and for motorists hurrying to fill up today, they’re wasting their money as prices will continue to drop in the days ahead. Gas stations are passing along the drop several weeks behind, and there’s plenty more room for prices to drop, putting 99 cents per gallon prices as a strong possibility for perhaps many more stations than we previously anticipated. This is truly an unprecedented turn of events.”

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