Governors issue tri-state travel advisory

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Travelers coming to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey arriving from coronavirus hot spots are being advised to self-quarantine for 14 days under a new tri-state travel advisory.

Gov. Ned Lamont, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday jointly announced the regional policy for visitors coming from states with high rates of coronavirus disease.

The protocol will apply to travelers from states where a rolling seven-day average shows 10% of the population is infected, or states that report a seven-day average of 10 positive cases per 100,000 residents. The list of covered locations will be updated weekly and available on state government websites.

The tri-state measure will use uniform parameters and messaging on highways, airports, websites and social media across the three states. Hotels will also be asked to communicate the 14-day quarantine to guests who have traveled from one of the identified states, and airlines and online booking platforms, too.

Each state will be responsible for enforcement within its borders.

At this time, Lamont said Connecticut is going to depend on voluntary compliance, but he will consider stricter actions if visitors are flouting the self-quarantine advisory.

“Right now, people have been pretty good about following our guidance. So, let’s start with that,” he said.

LAMONT FAVORS AN EXEMPTION for visitors who can show they have tested negative for the virus within 72 hours before arrival, but this remains a subject of conversation among the three states.

“We’re still discussing that. It makes some sense to me, and I know that some other states are doing it as well, and we’re going to get those specifics out in a day or so,” he said.

Cuomo named nine states that met the self-quarantine threshold Wednesday: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Lamont said the self-quarantine measure also applies to Connecticut residents returning home from high-risk states.

“If you’re coming back from Miami Beach, you have to quarantine just like anybody else,” he said.

NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY AND CONNECTICUT had been early epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak, and now all three states have seen significant declines since their peaks.

Lamont said the quarantine policy is an effort to preserve the hard-won progress that the three states have made in the viral outbreak.

There were just 14 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Connecticut on Wednesday. The largest reported daily increase topped 1,300 cases in mid-April during the height of the state’s outbreak.

“Nothing would be worse for our confidence, our economy, and our health than a relapse, and, sadly, we see relapses happening all over the country, and in some cases, more severe than what we had ever anticipated in terms of community spread,” Lamont said.

Connecticut started to gradually reopen on May 20 after a partial shutdown of the economy, and more businesses were allowed to open and additional coronavirus restrictions were eased last Wednesday. The next reopening phase is tentatively set for July 20.

“The reason we’re doing this is we are slowly and methodically opening up our state. We’re 95% open now as you know,” Lamont said.

THE TRI-STATE TRAVEL ADVISORY was announced as U.S. virus cases surge to highest level in two months.

Cuomo observed 27 states have seen increases in community spread, and he rejected assertions that increased testing is behind the state rises in reported COVID-19 cases.

“That is just factually not true. The numbers are not going up because you’re doing more testing. The numbers are going up because more people are getting sick,” Cuomo said. “You know how more people are getting sick? More people are going into the hospitals. When more people are going into hospitals, you know what it means? It means more people are getting sick, and don’t tell the American people anything different. They know when people go to a hospital it is because people are sick.”

Many of the states seeing increases have not been following the same precautions that Connecticut, New York and New Jersey adopted or testing regimes, said Dr. Diedre Gifford, Connecticut’s public health commissioner.

“What that means is that there is a higher risk in those states that an individual is infected and doesn’t know they are carrying and potentially transmitting COVID,” she said.

Gifford said the self-quarantine guideline is another sensible public health measure along with mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. She observed the virus came into Connecticut from elsewhere.

“So, this is another tool in the tool belt to help us really prevent a second wave,” said Gifford, an epidemiologist. “All of these things combined, the measures that we have been doing over the past several months and this additional very strong advisory to travelers, will help us lower the odds of a second wave.”