Travelers arriving to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Florida, Texas and other states with spiking Covid-19 infections rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Cuomo had previously said he was considering imposing a quarantine on travelers arriving in the state from places like Florida where coronavirus cases have spiked.
“We worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down. We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they can literally bring the infection with them,” Cuomo said at a press conference with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. “Because what happens in New York happens in New Jersey and happens in Connecticut.”
Cuomo said travelers coming from states with a high infection rate will be subject to the quarantine. The infection rate is based on the number of infections per 100,000 residents on a 7-day rolling average. People who don’t voluntarily quarantine for 14 days will be subject to fines and a mandatory quarantine. He said the fines will be $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 if they cause harm.
“As of today, the states that are above that level are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, Texas,” he said. “That’s as of today. The states themselves can change as the infection rate changes and we will update daily what states are above that infection rate.”
Individuals will largely be trusted to self-isolate on their own, he said, noting that the penalties for noncompliance are steep if someone violates the new rule and gets caught. The Port Authority will make travel records available if needed, he said.
New York City began its phase two reopening on Monday, which allowed for in-store retail, outdoor dining and hair salons and barbershops to reopen with modifications. On Tuesday, Cuomo said the city reported 1.2% of all tests conducted were positive. New York state reported a positivity rate of 1.1%.
Cuomo noted that coronavirus cases are rising across 27 states in the U.S. “Nationally, we should admit the reality. Denial is not a life strategy. It never is. Those 27 states are going up. More people are being infected and more lives will be lost,” he said.
In late March, as New York quickly became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated through an executive order that travelers arriving in Florida from the New York tri-state area self-isolate for 14 days.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a similar executive order in late March mandating a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from the New York tri-state area.
Since then, the coronavirus has shown signs of easing in New York while accelerating in the South and West. The Florida Department of Health reported another record spike in coronavirus cases on Wednesday and a rise in the percent of tests that are coming back positive, indicating that the surge is not due to ramped up testing.
The state reported that 15.9% of all tests came back positive Wednesday, up from 10.8% on Tuesday.
Texas has also seen an increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations since reopening. On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott warned that “tougher actions” would be necessary if the acceleration of cases and hospitalizations continued into July. He has urged residents to continue social distancing and to wear a face mask when in public.
“Wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open, because not taking action to slow the spread will cause Covid to spread even worse, risking people’s lives and ultimately leading to the closure of more businesses,” Abbott said.
On Friday, Cuomo warned that more people will die if states that have reopened their economies too quickly don’t take actions to curb recent spikes in cases.
“More people will die, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the politics, be smart, open the economy intelligently and save lives at the same time. That’s what we showed works in New York,” he said Friday.