New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont laid down a joint incoming travel advisory yesterday requiring all individuals traveling from states with significant surges of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period starting at last contact within the identified state.
This quarantine now in effect applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Currently, those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.
“In New York we went from the highest number of cases to some of the lowest rates in the country – no one else had to bend the curve as much as we did and now we have to make sure that the rate continues to drop in our entire region,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re announcing a joint travel advisory that says people coming in from states with a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days. We’ve worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down and we don’t want to see it go up again because people are traveling into the state and bringing it with them.”
The announcement comes just ahead of the busiest travel time of the year, and even in COVID times, Americans are getting ready to hit the road for the July 4 Independence Day holiday. Numbers in from travel data firm Arrivalist predict some 36.8 million Americans will be traveling over the summer holiday next week. That number is down slightly from the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) travel prediction last year, which held that 41.1 million travelers would be traveling.
The number of travelers on the road is expected to be well over predictions for Memorial Day weekend this year. That period saw a dim count that barely edged out numbers just after the Great Depression or the Great Recession of 2008. That year, 2.1 million people traveled by plane and 26.4 million people traveled by car during that period.
“We’re seeing a volume of road trip activity we haven’t seen since early before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cree Lawson, founder and CEO of Arrivalist said in a statement on Tuesday – a day before the trio of governors came down with their decree. “Travel patterns varied widely from place to place but the level of activity is reminiscent of previous spring break levels.”
As domestic trips are the way to go at this juncture of the pandemic, this week’s quarantine announcements will no doubt put a damper on plans for the summer holiday and possibly beyond. U.S. airline shares fell sharply after the tri-state announcement even though Airlines have already drastically reduced service to the region, particularly in the New York City area, due to the rage of the pandemic.
With months of strict lockdown rules, coupled with widespread testing and flagging attempts at contact tracing, cases have been brought under control, more or less, in the tri-state area. But now, states in the South and West are looking at what medical authority, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is calling a “disturbing surge” in cases. As of yesterday, 26 states reported an increase in cases in the past week in comparison to the previous week with a concentration of those cases rising from heavily populated states like California, Texas, Florida and Arizona.
While enforcing these measures will be a challenge for these jurisdictions, there will be threats of penalties for quarantine violations. In New York, violators could be subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine, and fines are $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 if there have been incidents of malice or harm.