Albany

N.Y. expands COVID travel quarantine to 31 states

Cuomo says program is imperfect and won't fully block virus coming from other states
State Department of Health personnel work at Albany International Airport on July 9.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
State Department of Health personnel work at Albany International Airport on July 9.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

ALBANY — Ten more states were added to New York’s travel quarantine list Tuesday, bringing to 31 the number of states included in the restrictions due to high levels of COVID-19 infections.

Gov. Cuomo announced the changes and said Puerto Rico also may be added to the list, as his administration is considering whether U.S. territories should be subject to the precautionary policy. Only states have been affected since the quarantines were begun by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on June 25.

In most cases, any person who spends more than 24 hours in one of the infected states must self-quarantine upon arrival in New York. There are limited exemptions for essential workers.

Minnesota has been removed from the quarantine list. With Tuesday’s additions, the affected states are:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

The travel quarantine protocol used by New York relies on New York residents returning to their home state and nonresidents arriving for visits honestly and accurately reporting their status and then, if needed, voluntarily and consistently isolating themselves for 14 days.

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Those who don’t can face hefty fines.

At Albany International Airport, 4,723 traveler health forms have been submitted by passengers arriving from restricted states, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.

DOH staff and state peace officers meet all arriving flights from affected states and greet passengers as they exit the plane in Albany. Those that have not filled out a paper or electronic form are directed to do so at that time.

The DOH said its personnel are not checking flight manifests at this point, so they do not know where passengers started their journey and cannot cross-check the accuracy of the passengers’ responses on the form.

However, everyone who submits a form and is subject to quarantine is checked to be sure they are following quarantine rules. They are offered the option of completing the daily check-in by phone or by text message.


DOH could not provide the number of quarantine checks performed through Tuesday.

Even as he announced the expansion of the quarantine list Tuesday, Cuomo acknowledged that it’s an imperfect defense and predicted COVID-19 would rebound into New York — most of the other 49 states are struggling with rising or even surging infection rates as New York holds steady.

It’s not a question of “possibly” or “maybe,” he said, but “when.”

Cuomo is hammering away at New Yorkers to reduce the spread of the virus within the state even as he tries to slow its influx from other states.

He’s been hammering at bars and restaurants that let their patrons congregate too closely together and at local governments that haven’t fined them for doing so.

When a reporter asked him Tuesday if he would order bars shut down, Cuomo didn’t give a direct yes-or-no answer. Bars were never allowed to reopen, the governor said, only restaurants were. By a quirk in state law, bars got to reopen at the same time, he said.

Just two COVID-related deaths were reported in New York state on Monday.

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