Gulf South Index


The Florida panhandle by the numbers...

Current Levels of Concern

33% of those surveyed in the Florida panhandle are still extremely concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic today and 36% think the situation is getting a little better.

1 in 3 said they would go back to normal right now if they could. 43% said their life has been impacted a fair amount by the pandemic and nearly 25% said their life has been impacted a great deal.

60% of people surveyed feel the health crisis will last for the rest of 2020 or longer and more than 30% still think the population should be on lockdown to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Travel and Leisure

82% are extremely unlikely to travel to Europe or Asia right now, while 70% feel the same way about travel to a big city such as New York or L.A. A much larger percentage of people are willing to travel to a destination within driving, with only 16% saying they were extremely unlikely to do this.

36% are currently unwilling to visit a state or national park.

More than 50% are still extremely unlikely to take in an outdoor concert or event - the highest number of people feeling this way in the Gulf South.

People are avoiding getting together socially.

88% of people are avoiding crowed places and 70% have opted out of social gatherings.

73% have cut back on visits to bars and restaurants.

How are we spending our time?

63% are watching more television and 75% are streaming more networks.

78% are spending more time with family.

As for work...

52% said there has been no change to their work situation due to the pandemic.

Thoughts on the economy...

Florida has the least positive economic outlook in the Gulf South, with only 25% saying that the economy is good or very good today.

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Where are people going in the Florida panhandle?

Many more people are heading back to the office in Escambia County, with the end of September tracking the highest number of people traveling to the workplace since the onset of the pandemic in March. We see a dip as of last week, but this may be attributed to Hurricane Sally affecting the area.

Back to the beach! It seems the beach is the hottest destination in Okaloosa County even though the summer season has officially ended. We see a record high at the end of September and then a pretty significant drop at the beginning of October. This could be attributed to Hurricane Sally and also schools beginning to accept more students for in-person instruction.

Travel to retail and recreation destinations have surpassed January baseline levels and continue to climb in Santa Rosa County.

People are out and about for shopping and leisure activities in Walton County. Even with a decrease at the beginning of October, we are still seeing numbers above the January baseline level.


The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, marketing, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally-recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South. The Gulf South includes Louisiana, Mississippi, coastal Alabama and the Florida panhandle. As thought leaders in our industry on the forefront of data analysis, we collect and examine this information to better understand the media landscape, consumer behaviors and how business and organizations operate in our region.

Causeway Solutions and The Ehrhardt Group conducted a series of online surveys, each of 1,384 adults with a margin of error of 2.5%.  The most recent survey was conducted on September 6-9, 2020.