Update, Sunday, March 29: While President Donald Trump has backed away from an “enforceable quarantine” on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory for the tri-state area for the next two weeks.
The CDC urges residents of the three states to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” The advisory, however, does not apply to “employees of critical infrastructure industries,” including public health professionals and food supply workers. The three states have “full discretion” in implementing the advisory, CNN reports.
This article was originally published on March 28, 2020.
Today President Donald Trump said that he is considering a quarantine of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, restricting residents from leaving their states. Trump said this afternoon while in Norfolk, VA, as a U.S. Navy medical ship left for New York City, that he would announce later today whether or not he would put the three states into quarantine and impose a domestic travel ban. Rhode Island police have reportedly begun stopping vehicles with New York plates.
“Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey,” Trump said. Maybe one or two other places; certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it, but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short-term, two weeks — on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut.”
Trump said he spoke to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and that they were “thinking about things” including restricting travel from those states because “they’re having problems down in Florida.” Trump added that he doesn’t want New Yorkers who are infected to travel to Florida.
Cuomo contradicted the president, saying they did not speak about a state quarantine. He added that he’s uncertain if a travel ban of that magnitude is constitutional and unsure if it would combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“I spoke to the president about the ship coming up and the four sites, I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine. I don’t even know what that means,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Times. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing…I don’t like the sound of it.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont tweeted that he too has not spoken to Trump about the possible travel restriction on his state, saying that he has already asked his residents to stay home or self-quarantine if they travel out of state.
The move by Trump, which the Associated Press reports DeSantis was pushing for, comes just a day after a White House briefing in which he said some governors were appreciative of the administration’s handling of the coronavirus while others were not.
“We’ve had great success over the last month. We’ve — as you know, the millions and millions of pieces of equipment have been delivered successfully by us — purchased and delivered. And we’ve made it available to the states. And the governors have been very gracious for the most part, I would say. There are a couple that aren’t appreciative of the incredible job. They have to do a better job themselves; that’s part of the problem,” Trump said.
“But, generally speaking, I have to tell you the governors have been great. I just spoke to the governor of New Jersey, Gov. Murphy, and he’s very thankful. And Gov. Cuomo has been very nice,” Trump added. “They’ve — they’ve really appreciated, I think, what the federal government has done. You look at the hospitals that are being built all over the country by the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA; it’s been really incredible. Nobody has seen — they’ll build hospitals in two or three days — portable hospitals.”
During the briefing, Trump announced he was invoking the Defense Production Act and told General Motors to mass produce ventilators. “Ventilators are a big deal and we’ve delivered thousands of them. And oftentimes, you don’t need ventilators very much. Hospitals don’t have very many. And now we’re — turning out that we have to produce large numbers.”
This major advancement comes days after medical workers have said they were working without proper protective gear and medical equipment. Trump initially said he didn’t need to use the Defense Production Act because private companies would volunteer to provide the equipment. Aside from invoking the Defense Production Act, and signing the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security Act, Trump is also changing his tune about when the country would be back up and running. Earlier in the week, Trump said he was aiming to reopen the country by Easter.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of two medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force, has said that there’s no way to predict the timeline of the virus, especially when you consider the devastating effect it is having in New York.
At yesterday’s briefing, Trump said he would advise that people might need to wait a little longer.
“If it’s your life and it’s your safety and if we need more time, they’re not going to have a problem waiting it out. It’s life, it’s safety, and it’s our country,” he said. “But we have to take care of people. At the same time, we want to get them out. They want to get out. Our country was built on that. But we have to make sure it’s safe, and everyone knows that.”
Nationwide, there are now at least 104,000 reported coronavirus cases. The three top states with confirmed coronavirus cases include New York with 52,318 cases, 728 dead; New Jersey with 8,825 cases, 108 dead; and California with 4,914 cases, 103 dead.
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