A University of Maryland analysis of anonymized smartphone data shows that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's lifting of state-ordered business closures has had the predictable, and warned-of, effect: More than 62,000 additional out-of-state visitors are arriving daily. That’s a 13% increase in state-to-state travel.
According to The Washington Post's writeup, almost all of that traffic came from adjacent Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida, four states where business restrictions kept restaurants, theaters and other nonessential service businesses closed when Georgia's reopened. Georgia, then, created a near-perfect scenario for spreading the virus inside and outside the state.
It's important to understand that this is not an unexpected outcome. The phenomenon of out-of-towners from shelter-in-place cities retreating to places with fewer restrictions, whether they be wealthy Americans deciding to wait it out in a second home or, far more commonly, less-well-off people crossing county lines to do shopping that their home city may consider nonessential, is known. (My own county hastened its shelter-in-place orders for precisely this reason: Increased travel from the adjacent shelter-in-place county was increasing the likelihood of a cross-county virus "hop." Soon afterward, and for much the same reasons, a California state order imposed restrictions everywhere.)
The reopening of Georgia entertainment and service sectors gave ample incentives for restless Americans just over state borders to pop in for a day trip, unknowingly or knowingly spreading the virus through Georgia establishments, and/or unknowingly bringing the virus back from Georgia's own county hotspots to their own communities. Shelter-in-place orders in counties with active outbreaks are rendered considerably less effective if a 20-minute drive can get residents somewhere with more lax rules.
We don't know yet if Georgia's "reopening" will lead to new COVID-19 clusters in neighboring states. It's almost assured to happen, however, just as the reopening Georgia businesses is certainly assured to escalate transmissions inside the state. The virus doesn't file taxes, have a driver's license or give a damn about political borders. It goes wherever its host takes it.
Georgia and the rest of the nation now has hard data, however, that seems to quantify what pandemic experts have warned about: Spotty lockdowns diminish the value of having lockdowns to begin with. States and governors that go it alone are doing the virus' work.