Cuomo Explores Legal Means To Enforce Out Of State Traveler Quarantine

Jun 26, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York is offering help to states like Texas and Arizona that are struggling with spiking COVID-19 infections. At the same time, the governor says he’s talking with airport officials and federal border control officers on how best to enforce a travel advisory that requires travelers from states with high rates of the virus quarantine for 14 days.

Cuomo says New York is now at its lowest rate of infection since the pandemic began. Testing shows the rate of the virus in the state is at 1.3%. Fourteen people died of the disease on June 25.

He says his chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, is reaching out to her counter parts in Texas, Arizona and Florida, to see if the state can be of any assistance, for instance, loaning ventilators or other medical equipment, or even National Guard soldiers. 

“Our offer is open-ended,” Cuomo told reporters in a conference call. “However we can help.”

The governor says many states helped New York when the state was the epicenter of the virus in the spring, and he wants to repay the favor.

At the same time, New York is continuing to require that travelers from states with high rates of infection quarantine for two weeks after they come here. It’s a reversal from March and April when the state was the epicenter of the disease in the U.S., and other states required that visitors from New York quarantine. At the time, the governor questioned the legality of such measures. Cuomo says he’s talking to airport officials, and even federal customs agents, on how New York’s travel advisory can legally be enforced.

“We are talking to the airlines right now,” about our ability as a state to question people coming into our airports, gathering information from them, doing checks on them, temperature checks etc.,” the governor said. “What is our legal authority, and how cooperative would the airlines be. We’re in the middle of that now.”

The state is currently in litigation with customs and border patrol over the federal government’s move to ban New Yorkers form the Trusted Traveler Program, due to a dispute over New York granting standard driver’s license applications to undocumented immigrants.

The governor’s comments come as the White House coronavirus task force held its first public briefing in nearly two months. Cuomo says states that followed the guidance of President Trump’s administration, which advocated for faster reopening of the economy and fewer precautions, like mandatory mask wearing, are now faring poorly. States like New York, which relied on science and data during its shutdown and cautious reopening with strict social distancing, are now doing well and have low rates of infection. Cuomo says the two “theories” were tested, and now the results are in.

“What are the results from testing of the theory in the laboratory of reality called America,” Cuomo said. “Let’s get past this silly political argument, who’s right, who’s wrong. Just took at the numbers.” 

The governor warns, though, that unless New Yorkers continue to follow safety protocol, the virus could come back.