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NY conducting random checks to ensure quarantine compliance, Cuomo says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a joint travel

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a joint travel advisory with the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday, requiring visitors from states with high COVID-19 infection levels to quarantine after arrival. Credit: Office of the Governor/Kevin P. Coughlin

This story was reported by Rachelle Blidner, Matthew Chayes, Lisa L. Colangelo, Scott Eidler, Bart Jones, David Reich-Hale and John Valenti. It was written by Jones.

New York State will make random checks on people to enforce a 14-day quarantine on travelers coming from states that are infection hot spots for the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.

The quarantine order by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is "not a blockade" or a political decision, but a practical policy to ensure COVID-19 infection rates don't jump again as they have been soaring in other states, Cuomo said.

"The federal government at one time threatened to blockade New York, which means you couldn't come in, you couldn't go out," Cuomo told "New Day" host Alisyn Camerota. "I don't believe that's constitutional. But states do have the authority to regulate their public health."

Asked how New York would enforce the mandate, Cuomo said tracers will follow up randomly to ensure visitors are meeting requirements.

"You fly into New York, we'll have your name, we'll know where you're supposed to be staying. There'll be random checks," Cuomo said. "You get pulled over by a police officer and he looks at where your residence [is] and says how long have you been here? You get sick and you go to a hospital from out of state and you test positive and you're within the 14 days, you've violated the law. You're going to have a problem."

Cuomo said inspectors will be "looking randomly at names on the list" and following up to make sure visitors are quarantined. If they are not, they will be fined, he said.

Visitors need to isolate themselves if they arrive from states registering 10 positives per 100,000 tested on a seven-day rolling average or with a 10% or higher positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average.

States meeting that criteria are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Washington was initially on the list, but state officials in New York and Washington said it was removed after its figures were corrected.

Violators can face fines of $2,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, and $10,000 if they "cause harm," Cuomo said Wednesday, when the quarantine was announced. They could be subjected to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine, and be required to pay the cost of the quarantine.

"I think most people are going to honor it," Cuomo said Thursday.

Camerota asked Cuomo about the politics behind the decision, noting Cuomo, a Democrat, had been among those outspoken when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in March announced a quarantine on New Yorkers traveling there.

Camerota showed a video clip of DeSantis saying, "Everyone in the New York media was blowing a gasket. How can you do this?" and saying he had made the right decision.

"I say to them all: Look at the numbers," Cuomo said. "You played politics with this virus and you lost. You told the people of your state, you told the people of this country, White House, don't worry about it. Just open up, go about your business, this is all Democratic hyperbole."

Under 1,000 patients for COVID-19

Cuomo said coronavirus infections are rising in 27 states. By contrast, he said, COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York are their lowest since the pandemic began.

Some 996 people were hospitalized as of Wednesday — the first time that number has dropped below 1,000 since March 18, Cuomo said. There were 17 reported coronavirus deaths — "one of the lowest daily numbers since we started."

The infection level remained at 1.1% positives for the state, with 749 positives out of 67,642 tests completed Wednesday. Long Island registered 1% positives, and New York City had 1.2%.

Nassau County had 61 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, Suffolk had 50, and New York City had 351, according to state figures.

New York City is on track to start Phase 3 of its reopening — which includes restaurants with limited indoor service and personal care like tattooing and nail care — as early as July 6, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“The data is telling us 'yes, right now,' ” he said.

In Nassau, County Executive Laura Curran said the number of ICU patients dropped two, to 18, compared to a peak of 592. The number of patients on ventilators was five, compared to a peak of 505. One patient died in Nassau County.

“As you can see, we are seeing these small ups and downs that become a little more pronounced the smaller the numbers get,” she said. “But the numbers are remaining largely flat, with a general trajectory going down, which is exactly what we want to see.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the number of people hospitalized in the county because of COVID-19 dropped by three, to 85. The number in ICU dropped by one, to 25. Two people died Wednesday from complications linked to the virus.

Northwell Health on Thursday said it had 294 COVID-19 patients in the 19 hospitals it owns and operates in the metropolitan area, compared to about 3,400 at the crisis' peak. It was the first time Northwell has dipped below 300 coronavirus patients on a weekday morning.

The total number of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic rose to 41,646 in Nassau, 41,151 in Suffolk, 213,699 in New York City, and 390,415 statewide.

New CDC guidance on COVID-19 virus

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the list of people who are at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19.

  • Risk increases as people age, not just for those over the age of 65.
  • Several health conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, sickle cell disease and serious heart conditions increase a person’s risk of falling severely ill.
  • Pregnant women with lab-confirmed infection of SARS-CoV-2 —as the virus is also known — are more likely to be hospitalized, placed in intensive care and ventilated than women who are not pregnant. Despite those findings, the agency said pregnant woman are not at a greater risk of death from COVID-19.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control