New York recruits neighboring states for potential Florida COVID-19 quarantine order

New York recruits neighboring states for potential Florida COVID-19 quarantine order

ALBANY – New York could team up with New Jersey and Connecticut to require travelers from states with high COVID-19 transmission rates to isolate upon their arrival, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

Cuomo last week threatened to impose a mandatory quarantine order on travelers from Florida, which is seeing thousands of newly confirmed coronavirus cases each day as New York continues to see declines in hospitalizations and deaths.

The Democratic governor offered more detail Monday, saying he has been talking to his neighboring states about issuing travel guidance that would require a quarantine when someone arrives from any state with a high COVID-19 transmission rate – not just Florida.

"I would consider states with the highest transmission rate, that if somebody comes from that state to New York, then there’s a period of quarantine where they quarantine themselves to make sure they’re not spreading," Cuomo said Monday on CNN.

More:New York considers quarantine for Florida travelers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says

Cuomo, DeSantis spar over travel

When the coronavirus began to explode in the New York area three months ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in his state.

Cuomo's comments come three months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis imposed a similar order on travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, mandating they quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Florida.

At the time, New York was being hit harder by the coronavirus than any state in the nation as Cuomo warned that an influx of COVID-19 patients threatened to overrun the state's hospital system.

Since then, the state's fortunes have reversed: New York has seen its daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases decline to between 500 and 700 a day, while Florida is experiencing several thousand new cases daily.

DeSantis has defended his quarantine order, saying it likely saved lives in the Sunshine State. On Sunday, DeSantis took a jab at Cuomo when asked about New York weighing a similar order, referencing New York's high COVID-19 death toll inside nursing homes.

"I think that governors have prerogative to do what they think they need to do," DeSantis said. "I would just ask if that’s done, please do not quarantine any Floridians in the nursing homes in New York."

New York has had at least 6,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Statewide, New York has seen more than 24,000 confirmed deaths, far more than any other state.

DeSantis' remark drew a rebuke from Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi, who said the Florida governor should spend less time "repeating right-wing Twitter bots and more time‎ trying to competently manage the pandemic that's spiking in his state."

"His citizens, which polls show have zero faith in him, might appreciate it," Azzopardi said in a statement.

More:COVID-19 is surging in 22 states but not New York. Will that change?

More:Federal lawmakers seek data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths in New York, other states

Cuomo previously criticized Rhode Island order

Governor Andrew Cuomo gives daily briefing on COVID-19 response at the Wegmans Conference Center in Chili Monday, May 4, 2020.

On CNN, Cuomo dismissed Florida's quarantine order – which remains in effect – as "more political than anything else." Cuomo is a Democrat; DeSantis is a Republican.

Cuomo was asked about his comments in March, when he aggressively criticized Rhode Island for pulling over drivers with New York license plates and ordering them to quarantine in the state.

At the time, Cuomo threatened to sue Rhode Island, calling the state's order an unconstitutional attack on New York.

On Monday, Cuomo said the Rhode Island situation was unique: Gov. Gina Raimondo's quarantine order applied only to travelers from the state of New York. When Cuomo threatened to sue, Raimondo changed it to apply to all out-of-state travelers.

Cuomo made clear his order – if he chooses to issue one – would apply to all states with a high COVID-19 transmission rate.

“What they were talking about back then was, Rhode Island just targeting New Yorkers, pulling you over by your license plate, which I thought was absurd," he said.

Florida's quarantine order, meanwhile, applies to travelers from an "area of substantial community spread" of COVID-19, though it specifically mentions only one such area: the "New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York)."

More:Coronavirus: Rhode Island repeals New York quarantine order, applies it to whole country

Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.

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