Admin: Travel Advisory for NY, CT & NJ 03/29 09:39
President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for
coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing
Saturday night that a "strong Travel Advisory" be issued to stem the spread of
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a
quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,
instead directing Saturday night that a "strong Travel Advisory" be issued to
stem the spread of the outbreak.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that the CDC was urging residents of the
three states "to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days."
The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the
heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the
leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a
populace already suffering under the virus.
Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White
House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three
states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in
consultation with the Federal Government."
He added: "A quarantine will not be necessary."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has criticized the federal government's
response as his state became the country's virus epicenter, said roping off
states would amount to "a federal declaration of war." Cuomo said the prospect
of a quarantine didn't come up when he spoke with Trump earlier Saturday,
adding that he believed it would be illegal, economically catastrophic,
"preposterous" and shortsighted when other parts of the U.S. are seeing cases
"If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally
bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social," Cuomo told CNN. He
added that locking down the nation's financial capital would shock the stock
market and "paralyze the economy" at a time when Trump has indicated he's
itching to get the economy back on track.
Trump made his initial remarks while on a trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to see
off a U.S. Navy hospital ship heading to New York City to help with the
pandemic. At the event, he spoke to a sparse crowd at the naval base and
cautioned Americans to take virus protections, even though he himself, at 73,
is in a high-risk category and among those who have been advised to refrain
from all non-essential travel.
The federal government is empowered to take measures to prevent the spread
of communicable diseases between states, but it's not clear that means Trump
can ban people from leaving their state. It has never been tested in the modern
era --- and in rare cases when any quarantine was challenged, the courts
generally sided with public health officials.
Courts have ruled consistently for years that the authority to order
quarantines inside states rests almost entirely with the states, under
provisions in the Constitution ceding power not explicitly delegated to the
federal government to states. The federal government, though, would have power
under constitutional clauses regulating commerce to quarantine international
travelers or those traveling state to state who might be carriers of deadly
Still, "it is entirely unprecedented that governors or the president would
prevent people from traveling from one state to another during an infectious
disease outbreak," said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University law professor
and public health specialist who questioned Trump's ability to order a
quarantine on states.
But as Trump traveled to Norfolk, he tweeted: "I am giving consideration to
a QUARANTINE of developing "hot spots", New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly."
"A lot of the states that are infected but don't have a big problem, they've
asked me if I'll look at it, so we're going to look at it," Trump said.
When asked about legal authority for quarantine, the incoming White House
chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said officials are "evaluating all the options
Administration officials were discussing less-stringent measures as well.
One idea under consideration would be to tell residents of the hard-hit areas
to isolate themselves and not travel for two weeks, just as the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention has instructed anyone who recently left New York
to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to one person familiar with the
negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing
The measure wouldn't necessarily come with any legal force or penalty, just
the hope that people would comply in an effort to try to contain the virus
The governors of Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas already have
ordered people arriving from the New York area to self-quarantine for at least
14 days upon arrival. In a more dramatic step, Rhode Island police have begun
pulling over drivers with New York plates so that the National Guard can
collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
Trump said the idea of isolating many in the trio of Democratic strongholds
in the Northeast was pushed by DeSantis, one of the president's most outspoken
supporters. It came a day after Trump made clear he wanted governors to be
grateful when asking for federal support for the pandemic.
Trump said people "go to Florida and a lot of people don't want that. So
we'll see what happens." He later clarified it would not affect truckers or
people transiting through, and would not affect trade.
Florida is a perennial swing state, and one Trump must win come November ---
plus he recently moved his residence from New York to Florida. It also has a
population of 21 million with a large percentage of old people, who are
particularly vulnerable to the virus.
DeSantis confirmed he had spoken with the president about the possibility of
a quarantine for the New York City area. Speaking Saturday to reporters,
DeSantis said Florida will soon set up a checkpoint along Interstate 95 to
screen travelers from that area, similar to one already in place along
Interstate 10 to screen people from Louisiana. Many airports in Florida also
are screening travelers from certain areas, requiring them to self-isolate for
The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 121,000. There
were roughly 2,000 deaths recorded by Saturday night, according to John Hopkins
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Saturday night that he's been in
communication with Trump and Pence and that their guidance "does not change the
rules that have been established and in place for over a week now" in New
Jersey. He said the frontline response effort, like health care and supermarket
workers, are still needed. "I encourage all New Jerseyans to continue
practicing aggressive social distancing and take personal responsibility to
help us get through this public health emergency."
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, also a Democrat, said at a news conference that
Trump's words about a quarantine have created a "certain amount of confusion"
and that "confusion can lead to panic." He said such a quarantine order would
be "impossible to enforce given the spider web of roads" and that he hoped the
White House would clarify what it wants.
After speaking in Norfolk, Trump watched as the USS Comfort slowly made its
way out of port. The 1,000-bed hospital ship had been undergoing planned
maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city.
It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier days after its sister
ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles to perform a similar duty on the
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such
as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially
older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe
illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.