Airlines will be handing out quarantine forms for passengers to fill out when entering New York. Governor Cuomo also wants “a customs-like check-in at the airport” for domestic flights.
The forms will be used to enforce New York’s quarantine of arriving domestic passengers from states with “a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.”
“The airlines have agreed to hand out forms on the flights coming into New York where on that form it will ask you where you’re coming from, where are you staying, and we need you to quarantine,” Cuomo said Wednesday.
The criteria for who has to quarantine is ever-changing, which means people will buy airline tickets and discover their trips are for naught as departure approaches.
Currently residents of the following states are subject to 14 day quarantine on arrival: Alabama; Arkansas; Arizona; California; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Iowa; Idaho; Kansas; Louisiana; Mississippi; North Carolina; Nevada; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah.
Anyone who violates the state’s self-quarantine requirement is subject to government quarantine and fines: “$2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for second and up to $10,000 if you “cause harm.””
These rules do not limit travel into New York from other countries where coronavirus prevalence is greater than it is in New York (and greater than in some states whose arrivals are restricted). And there are no limits on intra-state travel either as people bring the virus from one area of New York to another.
Governor Cuomo says this is necessary because “we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down.” New York’s transmission rate is down because of how many New Yorkers have already had the virus. Cuomo has been smug about the turnabout considering similar quarantine rules for New Yorkers that had previously been imposed by states including Florida and Texas, but he has no cause to be.
There have been 32,000 COVID-19 deaths in New York. While only about 400,000 cases have been confirmed, that’s because of how little testing was being done in March. At the height of the outbreak in the Northeast the U.S. may have been seeing 700,000 infections per day.
In New Jersey 12% of nursing home residents died of COVID-19. In New York they kept their number down by coding anyone who contracted the virus in a nursing home, but who was transferred to a hospital and died there, as a hospital death and not a nursing home death. That kept their nursing home number down to ‘only’ around 6200 deaths.
In March Governor Cuomo’s office ordered nursing homes to accept COVID patients back from hospitals as long as they were ‘medically stable’ and forbade them from testing new and returning nursing home residents for the virus. Cuomo’s office has tried multiple arguments to deny responsibility – that it’s really the CDC’s fault for not providing better guidance, that it’s really nursing home workers who more likely brought the virus in with them. For all his bluster on television though, he’s acted more like the chief executive of a U.S. airline than a leader. It’s always someone else’s fault and it’s easiest to blame ‘others’.
The important question, though, is this: once instituted, will these restrictions go away? Will “a customs-like check-in at the airport,” once contructed, be permanent?