Travelers from Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma will be required to self-isolate for two weeks when they arrive in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, expanding the quarantine mandate to 19 states to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19.
Officials update the list of states affected under Cuomo’s June 25 executive order every Tuesday. Cuomo, D-N.Y.; and Govs. Phil Murphy, D-N.J.; and Ned Lamont, D-Conn., imposed a tri-state order at midnight June 25 mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers who fly or arrive in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut 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. Weekly calculations are completed Monday nights.
The mandate increased to 19 states Tuesday, adding Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma to the list, which already includes California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, the Carolinas, Utah and Texas.
“As states around the country experience increasing community spread, New York is taking action to ensure the continued safety of our phased reopening,” Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “Three more states have now reached the level of spread required to qualify for New York’s travel advisory.”
Mandated self-isolation is aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases have spiked in 38 states and Puerto Rico, but continue to decline or remain flat in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Connecticut has the nation’s lowest COVID-19 transmission rate at 0.79, or one person with the virus is infecting 0.79, or less than 1, other person on average, which means the disease will stop spreading. A transmission rate greater than 1 means the virus will spread.
New Jersey’s COVID-19 transmission rate was 1.0 and New York’s at 1.05 Tuesday afternoon, according to rt.live. The quarantine policy is uniform across the three states, but each state is responsible for enforcing the policy.
State police is not monitoring out-of-state license plates or travelers, State Police Public Information Director Beau Duffy said Tuesday.
“You can’t pull someone over because they have an out-of-state plate,” Duffy said, adding an officer must have a motive to make a traffic stop.
“As with any of the governor’s orders relating to COVID-19, if troopers become aware of an issue, they will educate those involved about the requirements and take appropriate action, if necessary.”
The state Thruway Authority did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday about officials monitoring travelers’ E-ZPass toll records to ensure visitors from the impacted states are self-quarantining.
Through his 110-plus public coronavirus briefings, Cuomo has repeatedly said local governments and municipal officials are responsible for enforcement of statewide COVID-19 orders.
State Health Department officials are stationed at tables at a checkpoint inside Albany International and other state airports where they require passengers arriving from the 19 states on the list to fill out a form which officials use to randomly call or video call travelers to check visitors are self-isolating in a home or residence.
Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer with Westgate Resorts, said widespread government mandates are ineffective in preventing COVID-19 from spreading. Based in Florida, Westgate Resorts owns 150 hospitality-related businesses across the nation in 32 state and local jurisdictions.
“I’m a big believer issuing governmental mandate is not effective,” Waltrip said Tuesday. “Quite frankly, it is almost impossible for anyone to enforce these mandates. They are very hurtful to the travel industry as a whole.”
Visitors are increasingly canceling their travel plans and hotel stays under New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s self-quarantine mandate, Waltrip said, as not everyone is equipped to work remotely, or from home, and cannot take time off to isolate.
“These travel advisories and mandates are not the right way to go,” Waltrip said. “The right way to go to is to make sure you have a business to operate. There are so many things you can do that are enforceable — things like mandatory temperature checks at all entrances to properties.”
Westgate has taken a different, aggressive approach in keeping staff and guests safe and preventing further spread of the coronavirus by publicizing all social distancing, disinfecting and other protocols for numerous hospitality businesses and spaces, including guidance for shuttle buses, pool and spa areas, sale floors, lobby restrooms, offices and more.
“We published all our operating procedures for all the hospitality procedures with the hope to stimulate the industry,” Waltrip said. “There’s a lot of small businesses out there who don’t have the resources to create their own businesses and procedures and protocols. We as an industry must change the way we do business.”
Many businesses or employers may mean well, but may not know the safest, or best, procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I went to a restaurant and walked out because they were wearing masks, ... but cross-contaminating between [cleaning] tables, and the manager didn’t realize it,” Waltrip said. “She meant well, but she did not understand. We believe as a hospitality industry, we need to come together help our brethren in the industry from what we have studied and researched, and we hope other hospitality industries will do the same.”
For more information or to see the detailed guidance, visit westgatecares.com
Hyatt, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Extended Stay America, Expedia or Wyndam Hotels & Resorts did not return multiple requests for comment about guests self-quarantining in New York hotels, or the impacts of the advisory on visitors or travel plans.
Enterprise, Alamo and National rental car companies did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday about how the state mandate impacts car rental agreements with New York visitors required to self-isolate.
Violators may be fined $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and $10,000 if they caused harm by violating the quarantine. People who violate the advisory will be subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine where a state official checks a residence or dwelling once per day to ensure a person has remained separated from the public.
“New Yorkers did the impossible — we went from the worst infection rate in the United States to one of the best — and the last thing we need is to see another spike of COVID-19,” Cuomo said.
The state’s total virus hospitalizations increased to 836, up 19 patients, according to the governor’s office. More than 18,000 New York patients were hospitalized at the peak in April.
The state reported 588 new COVID-19 cases, or about 1.04%, of the 56,736 tests conducted Monday. Each of the state’s 10 regions reported a positive COVID-19 testing rate of 1.4% or lower.
To see where each region stands on reopening and the complete county breakdown of COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide, view the COVID-19 map and tracker at hudsonvalley360.com/site/covid19.html.