New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Wednesday “a joint travel advisory” requiring visitors from states with high transmission rates of the coronavirus to quarantine themselves for 14 days when they visit the tristate region.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, hosting a news conference with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, said the three states want to maintain their gains in halting spread of the virus while the number of cases is rising in more than half the states in the country — with some even breaking daily records.
The policy takes effect at midnight Wednesday.
“It’s only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission down,” said Cuomo, adding that he wasn’t inferring there is anything “malicious or malevolent” with those travelers.
New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, now has among the lowest transmission levels in the country. Cuomo said it has made a “180-degree” turnaround, while other states that reopened quickly and did not follow the science are seeing their rates jump.
Cuomo said visitors who need to isolate themselves when they arrive are those from states registering 10 positives per 100,000 tested on a seven-day rolling average or where 10% of the total population is positive on a seven-day rolling average.
The states currently meeting that criteria are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Texas and Utah.
Cuomo said the order was not just “symbolic.” People who violate it can face fines of $2,000 for the first offense, $5,000 second offense, and $10,000 if they “cause harm,” he said. They could also be subjected to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine, and be required to pay the cost of the quarantine.
Cuomo said each government would later issues details on how the orders will be enforced, and while that was not immediately clear, he laid out some scenarios would could lead to violators of the order being caught and punished.
“If you go to a hotel and a hotel clerk asks, ‘How come you are not on quarantine?’ You go to a business meeting, and somebody says, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be in quarantine?’ You are stopped by a police officer who says, ‘You’re driving a car … from Florida license. Weren’t you supposed to be in quarantine 14 days?’”
The three states will post messages about the order along highways, at airports, and on websites and social media, Cuomo said in a press release. They will also ask hotels to inform visitors who travel from any of the affected states about it.
“Any of those mechanisms you can be detected as violating your quarantine,” Cuomo said.
He stressed that people will not be prevented from entering New York and the two other states, since that would be a “blockade” which they don’t have the authority to impose.
But because of the public health threat, they do have the authority to impose a 14-day quarantine.
Cuomo said the joint action is needed because “what happens in New York, happens in New Jersey, happens in Connecticut.”
Murphy said he echoed Cuomo’s statements that this is simply smart strategy to keep the virus from regaining a strong foothold in the region.
“We live in the densest neighborhood in America,” Murphy said. “We’ve been clobbered by this virus … and I can’t thank you enough for this partnership, guys,” he told the other governors. “This is a smart thing to do … We have taken our people, these three states, through hell and back” to fight the virus through closures of businesses and institutions ” … and the last thing we need” is “another round” of virus spread and shutdowns.
Lamont thanked the other governors as well and said, “This is what we need to do to make sure that our region stays safe … and we will be monitoring this carefully.”
He said the policy is also a call to visitors to take responsible action to reduce risk of further spread: “If you come to Connecticut, if you come to New York, if you come to New Jersey, you come safely,” and follow the protocol.
Cuomo has floated the idea of the self-quarantine for the past week, noting that the number of cases in states such as Florida and Texas are soaring, and that visitors from those states could put New York’s relatively successful recovery in jeopardy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shot back over the weekend that if any visitors from Florida are quarantined in New York, he hopes it won’t be in the state’s nursing homes, where many patients have died from COVID-19 complications.
In other news, an estimated 22,000 municipal workers in New York City could be laid off in the fall due to a $1 billion budget shortfall in tax revenue, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
Absent a bailout from Washington, D.C., borrowing authority from Albany or concessions from public-sector labor unions, de Blasio said: “We are running out of options here. That is the blunt truth.”
There are roughly 300,000 municipal workers.
By law, the city budget for the upcoming fiscal year needs to be enacted by June 30.
In April, de Blasio announced that he would cut $2.7 billion from city agencies to address a prior shortfall.
Northwell: Fewer COVID-19 patients
Northwell Health on Wednesday said it had 313 COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals it owns and operates, down 13% from the same period a week ago.
Within the Northwell system, Long Island Jewish Medical Center has the most COVID-19 patients, with 58, followed by North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset at 52, and Glen Cove Hospital at 39.
Northwell said it had nine admissions over the last 24 hours.
With Matthew Chayes and David Reich-Hale