New York removed five states from mandatory quarantine orders for travelers from areas with high spread of the coronavirus, as it marked its 18th straight day of positive testing levels falling below 1%, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.
The states removed from the "travel advisory" list are Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana. The U.S. territory of Guam was added to the list.
The changes leave 31 states or territories on the list. The action came as the number of new cases of COVID-19 have dropped in some areas as officials adopt mandatory mask-wearing measures and reverse moves such as opening bars and indoor dining.
States/regions in red are included on New York's travel advisory list as of Oct. 27, 2020. Guam and Puerto Rico, not pictured, are also on the list.
"New Yorkers made enormous sacrifices to get our numbers as low as they are today, and we don't want to give up an inch of that hard-earned progress. That's why these travel advisory precautions are so important — we don't want people who travel to states with high community spread to bring the virus back here," Cuomo said in a statement.
The advisory requires people who have traveled to New York from areas with high levels of community spread of the coronavirus to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
"While it's good news that five states have been removed from the travel advisory, the list remains far too long as America continues to struggle with COVID-19. New Yorkers should stay vigilant and be careful — wear a mask, socially distance, and be smart. This pandemic is not over."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommends people self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling from another state or country.
The CDC updated its travel guidelines on Friday, urging U.S. residents to “follow state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements after travel.” The CDC previously recommended a 14-day quarantine for anyone returning from international trips or any area with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
No time to give up
Out of 67,255 test results reported to New York State on Monday, 629, or 0.94%, were positive, according to state data released Tuesday. Two people died Monday of causes related to the virus, matching a low since the pandemic hit the state, Cuomo said. No deaths were reported in New York City.
The positive test level was 1.1% on Long Island and 0.8% in New York City. The number of new confirmed cases was 64 in Nassau County, 42 in Suffolk County and 231 in New York City.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement that the lower number of cases in the county has hovered around 1% despite "continuing to test large volumes of people."
Efforts to contain the virus should be sustained, she said.
"I know this new normal is difficult at times, but it’s not time to give up," Curran added. "COVID-19 hasn’t disappeared, and we don’t want to lose all the progress we’ve made so far. We know what works. Let’s keep following these public health protocols."
Cuomo said Monday that New York is preparing to test for the coronavirus at its major airports, but did not elaborate on the implementation and timing of those plans.
State officials, including state troopers and State Liquor Authority agents, continued to inspect bars and restaurants on Long Island and in New York City for violations of coronavirus mitigation regulations.
Of 1,024 establishments inspected Monday, two were issued summonses for violations, Cuomo said.
NYC checking schools' ventilation
Meanwhile, one day after pushing for outdoor learning for New York City public school students, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the additional formation of so-called School Ventilation Action Teams. They will inspect school buildings and classroom space to ensure safe air flow and air quality for city school students returning in September.
The mayor said Tuesday that those teams include professional engineers and ventilation experts and said inspection teams will use standardized checklists to assess air quality and potential air flow issues. They will conduct walk-throughs of all school buildings, classrooms and other spaces, like bathrooms.
De Blasio vowed any areas not meeting standards will be taken out of service and said the goal is “to get it right.”
Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said inspections began Tuesday morning and that the Board of Education has purchased more than 10,000 portable air-filtration systems to ensure safe breathable air for students.
“The science is clear,” Carranza said, adding: “Well-ventilated buildings are safer buildings.”
New York City School Construction Authority president and CEO Lorraine Grillo said more than 100 teams are conducting inspections and that each team has been between two and four professional engineers who will be “in every single school.”
She said officials believe they can complete all inspections — and identify any safety issues that need to be corrected by Sept. 1. Officials vowed results of these studies would be posted online for parents to assess by Sept. 4.
Grillo said teams will not only inspect ventilation systems, but also will assess air flow based on what windows can be opened to bring outside air into classrooms and other parts of school buildings.
Grillo said exhaust fans will be used to improve air flow in problem areas, though officials — including de Blasio — did not fully address potential problems like classrooms and building spaces that don’t have windows, the onset of winter and how open windows would affect the heating of classrooms.
“We want to reach a very high standard,” de Blasio said of building and classroom air quality. “We’re going that extra mile to make certain we get everything right.”
Meanwhile, Carranza said 243 schools have submitted plans to the city for outdoor learning scenarios, which would involve use of playgrounds and public spaces, including parks and even streets closed to traffic. Officials were reviewing those plans.
On another front in the city, New York Fashion Week will take place Sept 13-17, but with limited or no spectators, Cuomo announced Tuesday.
Outdoor events will be capped at 50 persons, and indoor events at 50% capacity and no spectators, he said. The week will include a mix of live and virtual fashion shows, presentations and programming.
With Scott Eidler
New York's travelers' quarantine list
Travelers in New York State's "travel advisory" list, due to community spread of the COVID-19 virus, are required to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. The following is the updated list of states and other jurisdictions whose travelers face those restrictions in New York as of Aug. 25:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands
SOURCE: New York Governor's Office