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Cuomo orders travelers to provide contact info when entering NY from high-infection states

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said travelers from states with high infection levels of COVID-19 will be required to provide contact information before they leave the airport, or face a $2,000 fine. Credit: NY Governor's Office

This story was reported by Lisa L. Colangelo, Rachelle Blidner, Candice Ferrette, David Reich-Hale and Yancey Roy. It was written by Colangelo.

Travelers from states with high infection levels of COVID-19 — such as Florida and Texas — will be required to provide contact information before they leave the airport or face a $2,000 fine, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday.

The emergency health order, issued by the state Department of Health, mandates travelers from those states must provide a location form before they leave the airport, Cuomo said.

“You must give officials at the airport your form as to where you came from and where you are going before you leave the airport,” Cuomo said during a news conference in Manhattan. “It will be enforced in every airport in the State of New York.”

Cuomo, who has already imposed quarantine restrictions on travelers from high-infection states in an agreement with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, said the move is needed to keep coronavirus infections from surging once again in New York.

He said starting Tuesday people who leave the airport without providing the information will receive a summons immediately with a $2,000 fine. Travelers arriving from the designated states through other means, including trains and cars, must fill out a form online.

Those who don’t comply can also be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete a mandatory quarantine, he said.

“None of this is pleasant, but we have gone through this before,” Cuomo said.

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So far, 22 states have been labeled high-infection states requiring quarantine upon entrance to New York: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

“It came in through the airports,” Cuomo said. “It will come in through the airports once again.”

Cuomo's announcement brought a swift rebuke from State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) as an "overreach of power."

"This is putting an unwelcome mat at New York’s door," Ortt said. "Such severe action will keep people and their dollars away, at a time when our businesses need them most. It’s also unclear if such an order would even stand up in court, and we hope that groups who care about civil liberties will challenge this order to protect individuals."

Cuomo said the number of people infected with COVID-19 in New York State continues to remain low, he said.

About 1.5% of people tested on Long Island on Sunday were positive for COVID-19, he said. That represents a slight uptick from the previous four days, when the rate was 1% or lower.

Of the 51,687 people tested on Sunday across the state, 557 were positive for COVID-19, a 1.08% rate. In addition, 792 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 — the lowest number since mid-March.

“All our numbers are good,” Cuomo said. But he quickly added: “I worry every day.”

Along with the threat of virus spreading from people coming to New York from other states, Cuomo said the other risk comes from quarantine-weary New Yorkers growing lax about wearing masks and socially distancing from others.

“We have to remain compliant, and the local governments have to do their job and enforce compliance,” he said. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases doubled in Suffolk County on Sunday from the prior day, County Executive Steve Bellone said during a news briefing on Monday afternoon. The uptick comes one week after Fourth of July celebrations and gatherings prompted concerns about a potential rise in cases.

The county had 84 new positive cases, which Bellone called “the highest we have seen in some time,” up from 41 the day before, health officials said. The infection rate rose to 1.9%.

When asked if holiday gatherings might have caused the increase, Bellone said “it’s certainly something we are thinking about.”

Bellone urged anyone who attended a July Fourth gathering to “be sensitive to how you’re feeling” and reconsider any plans for the next 14 days. He also asked people to be “open and honest” with contact tracers, noting some people “have not been completely forthcoming.”

Other numbers reflecting the virus decline are “very good” he added, saying that for the second straight day there were no deaths from the virus.

There were 40 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of July 11, he said and no new fatalities. The death toll in Suffolk County remains at 1,993.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was emotional on Monday as she gave her 118th and final daily news briefing on the pandemic.

She choked up in thanking county workers, saying “it’s not over yet but the last few months no one could have imagined.”

Curran said 46 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Nassau County, with 10 in intensive care. The death toll in Nassau County stands at 2,190.

For more than one month, the rate of positives stands about 1%, she said, noting that at the end of March, 55% of the people being tested were testing positive.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, present at the briefing held at the Office of Emergency Management in Hicksville, said complaints of people not social distancing continue to come in but that many are unfounded.

He said 61 summonses have been given out for violating social distancing rules since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We have come a long way and I want to thank our front-line workers here in Nassau County, who continue to show up every day to protect the health of our residents, to protect the health of our community,” Curran said. “One thing that does give me pause are the numbers that we are seeing around the country. We’re seeing cases spike. It seems like every day there’s a record set. And we’re reminded that we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Curran urged residents to continue to social distance and “keep using common sense.” She said that she and two of her three daughters went to a mall this past weekend.

“We have proven that it is possible to reopen and protect public health here in Nassau County,” Curran said. 

Northwell Health on Monday said it is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing at four locations in Suffolk County.

The tests are available at St. Agnes Parish in Greenport, New Bethel First Pentecostal Church in Bellport, First Baptist Church in Bay Shore and St. Hugh of Lincoln Roman Catholic Church in Huntington Station.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joined Cuomo’s news conference remotely to discuss her frustrations with the rising cases of COVID-19. Cuomo announced the state will send testing and contact tracing teams to assist in Atlanta.

With Rachelle Blidner, Candice Ferrette, David Reich-Hale and Yancey Roy

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