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NY, NJ, CT direct out-of-state travelers to quarantine because of COVID-19

The Greater Rochester International Airport. (Tina MacIntyre-Yee/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle/TNS)

 New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will direct travelers from states with high rates of COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

The Democratic governors of the three states held a joint news conference to announce the new travel advisory, six days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo first threatened to put it in place.

The move comes three months after Florida, Texas, South Carolina and other states instituted a similar quarantine policy that included travel from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which came at a time when Florida’s coronavirus rates were low and the Northeast states were being hit hard.

Since then, the rates have flipped: Florida is identifying thousands of new cases of COVID-19 each day, while New York is regularly seeing below 700.

“I think it’s right and I think it’s smart and I’m glad we’re doing it together,” Cuomo said during a news conference Wednesday in Manhattan.

Cuomo said the order will apply to travelers from states that have identified 10 residents that have tested positive for COVID-19 for every 100,000 residents on a seven-day rolling average.

As of Wednesday, that applied to eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington and Utah, according to Cuomo.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said further guidance would come from the states’ health departments.

Murphy called the measure a “common sense” move.

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

Cuomo has acknowledged the situation is a “complete 180” from March, when Cuomo threatened to sue the state of Rhode Island as it began stopping drivers with New York plates and ordering them to quarantine.

On Monday, Cuomo said he took issue with Rhode Island only targeting New York travelers. His order is broader: It applies to any state with an elevated rate of COVID-19 transmission.

When President Donald Trump floated the idea of a mandatory quarantine order for the New York tri-state area in late March, Cuomo likened it to a “federal declaration of war.”

Trump later backed off the idea, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead issuing guidance advising New York travelers against domestic travel for two weeks in March and April.

“I don’t believe that any federal administration could be serious about physical lockdowns on parts of states across this country,” Cuomo said on CNN in late March. “I don’t believe it’s legal. It would be economic chaos.”

“I can’t thank you enough for your partnership, guys. We need to do things right inside the four walls of our states. We have needed the federal government. But boy, do we need our neighbors.”

At the news conference Wednesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont — who, like Murphy, appeared by video feed — said Northeast states have taken coronavirus seriously but now must worry about travelers from other states reintroducing the virus.

“We’re not an island,” Lamont said. “As we look around the rest of the country, we have seen not just spikes but real community spread.”


© 2020 Observer-Dispatch