Officials doubled the number of states where travelers to New York are required to quarantine from for two weeks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared in an updated executive order Tuesday.
Cuomo, D-N.Y.; and Govs. Phil Murphy, D-N.J.; and Ned Lamont, D-Conn., imposed a tri-state order at midnight Thursday 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.
The mandate doubled with eight more states Tuesday to include California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee on Tuesday. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, the Carolinas, Utah and Texas fell under last week’s initial advisory.
“We’re trying to keep the infection out of New York,” Cuomo said during an interview on NY1 on Tuesday. “We now have 16 states that meet the formula for quarantine. That’s a very significant problem.”
The governor repeated how the virus landed in New York and New Jersey airports with more than 3 million European travelers from January to mid-March.
“The virus is raging all across the nation and that’s because we have a federal government that just missed this. They denied it in the first place, let’s be honest. They refused to solve it because they don’t admit it.”
The required self-isolation order is aimed to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases have spiked in 32 states and Puerto Rico, but continue to decline in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The quarantine policy is uniform across the three states, but each state is responsible for enforcing the policy.
Last week, Cuomo said 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.
The governor’s Press Office has not responded to multiple requests for comment about which state officials will be performing the inspections, how many inspectors will work in each region or county or the methods they will check a traveler in self-quarantining.
State Health Department officials are stationed at tables at a checkpoint inside Albany International Airport where they require passengers arriving from the 16 states on the list to fill out a form, said Doug Myers, Albany International Airport director of public affairs.
The airport is not involved with enforcing the governor’s order, Myers said.
“This is not the airport’s responsibility — we’re not an enforcement arm,” he said. “The airport is cooperating with the health department. They assist passengers filling out forms.”
Cuomo said Thursday state inspectors may randomly check on travelers who are supposed to be quarantining. Customs or border patrol officials at state airport are federal employees, and would require federal orders or guidance to assist in enforcing the state’s travel advisory. Cuomo and his aides remain in conversation with federal authorities about ways they are willing to help monitor travelers and implement the tri-state order.
Travelers were expected to land in Albany on Tuesday from one flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, two from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and another out of Atlanta. Travelers stopping in New York for a layover, to visit a rest stop or brief period, are not required to self-isolate.
Myers did not know what the health department does with the passengers’ submitted forms, he said, adding the airport does not handle or provide travelers the document.
“Passengers are being provided the forms at their point of origin if they’re [airlines] not providing them with them here,” Myers explained, adding they socially distance while waiting in line to submit the form to a health official.
The Albany airport follows the COVID-19 guidance and cleaning protocols implemented by the state Health Department and Center for Disease Control & Prevention, including requiring travelers to socially distance and wear face masks.
The airport will update its air-conditioning and filtration system with a High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA, filters, which have been shown to help reduce the presence of COVID-19 in air filtration systems. HEPA filters filter out particles 0.01 micron and larger. Coronavirus COVID-19 particles measure about 0.125 micron in diameter.
Watertown International Airport Manager Grant Sussey said state Health Department officials are not stationed in the North Country airport screening passengers or requiring them to fill out and submit forms after landing.
“We’re aware of the expanded advisory ... no one from the New York Health Department is currently present,” Sussey said Tuesday, adding copies of the state’s travel advisory and COVID-19 travel guidelines are available for passengers at service counters.
Signage about the state’s mandated two-week quarantine for certain travelers is posted in the Watertown airport terminal. Sussey refers passengers to the state travel advisory on the airport’s website, watertownairport.com, to their airline or the state Health Department for more travel guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s self-quarantine mandate, otherwise, has not affected regular airport operations outside of the new mask-wearing and social-distancing protocols, Sussey said.
“We encourage passengers to check with their airline or check our Facebook page for any latest information on the travel advisories as information changes and the list of states are updated,” he said. “Passenger numbers are starting to come back up for the summer.”
Enterprise, Alamo and National rental car companies did not respond to requests for comment before press time Tuesday about how the state mandate impacts car rental agreements with New York visitors required to self-isolate.
The state Health Department is investigating potential COVID-19 exposure associated with a religious service held June 21 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Ticonderoga, Essex County. One person in attendance tested positive to date, but anyone who attended the service is encouraged to get a COVID-19 test.
Global experts and state officials cleared the Capital Region to enter phase IV of reopening Wednesday.
Officials are expected to announce a decision about resuming indoor dining in New York City on Wednesday after Cuomo said his office received numerous complaints about people complying with social-distancing or mask-wearing measures.
State police, State Liquor Authority and Health Department officials monitored patrons at city bars and restaurants Tuesday, which will help Cuomo and his aides make a decision, the governor said.
“I don’t want to be hard-edge, but it’s the law and I need the local governments to do the compliance,” he said. “I know there’s a lot going on in the NYPD now, but they have to enforce it.
“In New York City we have a compliance issue, and it’s real,” Cuomo added. “You look at people on the sidewalks, you look at people by bars, you’re seeing the congregations that we were so good at preventing for so long. ...don’t forget the masks, don’t forget to socially distance. That’s what brought us down and that will create a problem again.”
The city prepares to enter phase III early next week.
The state reported 13 New Yorkers died from the virus Monday — up from seven Sunday. The state’s total virus hospitalizations increased for the first time in weeks, bringing Tuesday’s total to 891 patients, or up 38, according to the governor’s office.
The state reported 524 new COVID-19 cases, or about 1%, of the 52,025 tests conducted Monday. Each of the state’s 10 regions reported a positive COVID-19 testing rate of 1.4% or lower.
To schedule a COVID-19 test or for more information about the virus, visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing