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New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to Quarantine Visitors from States with Many Infections

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New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to Quarantine Visitors from States with Many Infections

2020-06-25 17:06:38

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: COVID-19 at Grand Central Station (Image source: Public domain)

Things can turn completely around in just a manner of months. Other states were blocking visitors from New York throughout the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, as the state was viewed as an epicenter, and there were more cases there than in any other country other than the United States.

But New York worked hard at sheltering in place and is now doing much better with the numbers. However, now other states that didn't enforce the same rules now have the major outbreaks. This has led New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, to order any visitors to the three states to quarantine first for two weeks.

New Yorkers just don't want to have to go back to what they worked so hard to get out from underneath. These restrictions are based on health metrics that are related to COVID-19, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We now have to make sure that the rate continues to drop," said Cuomo. "A lot of people come into this region, and they could literally bring the infection with them. It wouldn't be malicious or malevolent, but it would still be real."

Any failure to obey these rules in New York could lead to thousand-dollar fines, the governor said. People traveling to New Jersey and Connecticut will also be asked to quarantine, but as of right now, there is no plan for enforcement.

The "joint travel advisory" took place at midnight Wednesday, said Cuomo. He added that setting this in motion so quickly was to prevent a rush of people trying to avoid following the rules. Currently, people traveling from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah would be asked to quarantine.

Texas is seeing a record-high number of hospitalizations. Houston hospitals and others in the state have struggled to keep up with the number of virus patients that need intensive care, just as New York did a few months back.

"There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas," said Gov. Greg Abbott in a Wednesday interview.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper reported rising hospitalizations in his state and called for the next phase of reopening to be paused and to make masks required in public when it's not possible to keep a safe distance.

More than 20,000 people tested positive for the virus in Florida over the last five days. Only 3,100 tested positive in that same time frame in New York.

Prior to this joint order, only a few states — including Maine, Rhode Island, and Hawaii — required travelers crossing the state border to quarantine. Even more states ask travelers to quarantine but don't have a mandate for the order. Florida and Kansas and a few others only ask citizens traveling from certain states to quarantine.

This three-state initiative will apply to any person who arrives from a state with a positive test rate that his higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state that has a 10-percent or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average.

Cuomo allowed that enforcement would be up to the individual states. Those violating the order in New York could be "subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine." The first violation could result in a $2,000 fine and could be as much as $10,000 for subsequent violations.

A Cuomo spokesman said that if a New Yorker believes that a visitor to the state, or someone returning to the state, has not been obeying the request, that person should report the possible violation to the local health department.

"You could argue that every law is the honor system until you get caught," said Cuomo. "You can violate the quarantine until you get caught," he added, then "you're in mandatory quarantine and fined thousands of dollars."

Baseball players on the Mets and Yankees teams who have been in Florida but are returning home to New York for a late spring training will not be required to quarantine. The state has been working with them on "health protocols," said Cuomo.

While Cuomo hosted the news conference from New York City, New Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont joined him by video.

"This is a smart thing to do. We have taken our people, the three of us, these three states, through hell and back," said Murphy. "The last thing we need to do is subject our folks to another round."

They allowed that the goal is to maintain the efforts made against COVID-19 that have been made over the past three months. Just on Monday, nearly 49,000 people were tested for the virus in New York. Just shy of 600 came back positive.

"We now have the virus under control. Yeah, but Florida doesn't, Texas doesn't, these other states don't," said Cuomo last week. "And what happens if they get on a plane and they come to JFK? So, we get the infection rate down, and then because other states are high, we could have a problem." 

Epidemiologists see multiple outbreaks that are out of sync, not seemingly connected, and not one uniform outbreak across the country. Quarantine requirements then made sense. They are also cautioning that it's still an active and possibly adjusting situation.


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