(CNN) — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory Wednesday that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the travel advisory applies to anyone coming from a state with a transmission rate above a certain rate.
“We have to make sure the virus doesn’t come in on a plane,” Cuomo said.
“We worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down, and we don’t want to see it go up,” he added.
The announcement is a 180-degree flip from just a few months ago, when the tri-state area, and New York City in particular, was the epicenter of the pandemic.
In late March, President Donald Trump considered placing the three states under quarantine, Rhode Island police stopped vehicles with New York license plates, and Florida directed all travelers from the tri-state area to isolate or quarantine for two weeks.
Months of strict lockdown rules, widespread testing and imperfect attempts at contact tracing have brought cases under control in the tri-state area and the region. New cases are on the decline this past week compared to the week before in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
But now, states in the South and West are seeing what Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, called a “disturbing surge” in cases. As of Wednesday, 26 states reported an increase in cases in the past week compared to the week prior, and that increase has been particularly stark in heavily populated states like California, Texas, Florida and Arizona.
Beacuse of that, Gov. Cuomo suggested travel restrictions would be forthcoming in an interview with CNN on Monday.
“I’m getting calls all day long, people from Florida (and) Texas, saying, ‘We want to be in New York because we’re afraid to be in Texas and Florida.’ That could actually increase our transmission rate,” he said.
“I would consider states with the highest transmission rate, that if somebody comes from that state to New York there’s a period of quarantine where they quarantine themselves to make sure they are not spreading it.”
Lack of national infrastructure
The interstate travel restrictions are just another consequence of the federal government’s inability to create a robust national public health infrastructure. The lack of nationwide rules and effective supply chains has largely left each state on its own and had the effect of pitting them against each other.
Even now, 19 states have no requirements for residents to wear facemasks — the simplest and cheapest layer of defense against a virus with no vaccine and no widely effective treatment.
Indeed, Gov. Cuomo has openly mocked other states that he said were acting politically rather than scientifically.
“New York went from one of the highest infection rates in the country to one of the lowest because we made decisions based on science — not politics,” he said Tuesday. “We’re seeing in other states what happens when you just reopen with no regard for metrics or data. It’s bad for public health and for the economy, and states that reopened in a rush are now seeing a boomerang.”
As part of its phased reopening, New York required regions to meet certain metrics around testing, contact tracing, and hospital admissions and available beds. New York City, the final region to reopen, moved to the second phase of its reopening on Monday after seeing continued improvement in each metric.
Still, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said no state has yet effectively reopened its economy safely.
“We have to figure out how to make that transition in a successful way, or every state that reopens, even those that have done a really good job at tamping this down, are going to see pretty dramatic rises and we’re going to end up back to where we were,” Besser said.