ALBANY — New Yorkers should avoid travel to neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, as visitors from all but six states must isolate for two weeks when arriving in New York to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Travelers from Arizona and Maryland were added to New York’s advisory Tuesday and must self-quarantine when arriving in New York, bringing the total to 43 states on a list that has fluctuated with a minimum 20 states since Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Govs. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., and Ned Lamont, D-Conn., issued a tri-state executive order June 25.
Travelers from states with more than a 10% positive coronavirus test rate, or a positive test rating higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day average, must quarantine for 14 days when flying or driving into New York. Officials update the list every Tuesday.
New Jersey and Connecticut meet the criteria to be required to isolate for two weeks when crossing into New York, but enforcement is impossible, the governor said, as hundreds of out-of-state residents cross borders by driving or taking public transportation for work every day — especially in the downstate metro area and surrounding counties.
“There is no practical way to quarantine New York from New Jersey and Connecticut,” Cuomo said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “There are just too many interchanges — there are too many interconnections. There are too many people who live in one place and work in the other.
“...In Pennsylvania, we have the same basic issue.”
State Health Department officials have largely enforced the quarantine mandate by requiring travelers to fill out a form at airports and train stations statewide, submitting what location they plan to quarantine. Visitors are subject to random video calls or checks to ensure they are in the provided quarantine location.
The executive travel advisory includes Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
“This is really a bizarre outcome,” Cuomo said. “New York had the highest infection rate. ... Most states would welcome the infection rate in our red zones.”
New York had the nation’s third-lowest infection rate among the nation’s 50 states Tuesday, trailing Massachusetts at 1.14% positive and Maine at 0.36%.
“New York is doing so much better than the other states — that’s what’s happening, they are the norm,” Cuomo said. “When you’re talking about 43 states, you’re talking about the norm in the country. The norm in the country is going up. We are not going up the way the norm in the country is going up and hence, they’re ‘quarantined’ from New York.”
Officials in the state’s Coronavirus Task Force are working to control the spread of COVID-19 and safely keep businesses up and running as New York faces an estimated $50 billion revenue shortfall over two years because of pandemic spending.
Cuomo spoke with Murphy and Lamont on Tuesday and is expected to release updated travel advisory guidance for the neighboring states during a briefing Wednesday.
“I’m going to be speaking with the governors today about how we can help them with their spikes,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to be working with Connecticut and New Jersey ... making it clear that to the extent travel among the states, or between the states is not essential, it should be avoided.”
Cuomo declared an executive order Tuesday extending the state’s moratorium on COVID-related commercial evictions and foreclosures through Jan. 1. The measure extends protections for commercial tenants and mortgagors in recognition of the financial toll the pandemic has taken on business owners, including retail establishments and restaurants, according to the governor’s office.
Members of the state’s Coronavirus Task Force continue to monitor the daily COVID-19 infection rates in state hot spots and microclusters mainly centralized in Hasidic Jewish communities in Orange and Rockland counties, Brooklyn and some areas in Queens with tens of thousands of targeted, rapid diagnostic COVID-19 tests.
The COVID-19 infection rate in state microclusters is gradually declining, with 2.91% positive in “red zone” areas — down from 3.31% Monday. Within hot spots, the state reported 1.8% positive rate in Orange County on Tuesday, 2% in Rockland County, 1.4% in Queens County and 1.8% in Kings County, which includes Brooklyn.
State health experts and scientists have said they expect microclusters to continue throughout the fall and winter months, or until the successful development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ll see this through the fall — microclusters will pop up,” Cuomo said. “We will attack them, we will abate them and another microcluster will pop up somewhere else and we will attack it and we will abate it. Welcome to the fall. That is going to be what is happening.”
New York had a 1.2% COVID-19 infection rate Tuesday, not including microclusters. The rate is 1.3% with the clusters oversampling included.
Regional coronavirus infections continue to skew higher, with 0.8% in the Capital Region, 1.3% in the North Country and 1.2% in Western New York with 1.3% in New York City. Central New York had 2.1% positive Tuesday following a SUNY-related cluster and 1.7% positive in Mid-Hudson.
The coronavirus infection rate in state hot spots dipped to 2.9% Tuesday, down from more than 4.5% positives last week.
The state reported 942 New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, up eight patients from the previous day.
Twelve New Yorkers died from the novel coronavirus Monday — down from 14 deaths Sunday, but reflects a continuing uptick of the state’s average number of daily fatalities, which remained below 10 for several weeks.