State to require contact info from air travelers

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Air travelers from states with a high rate of coronavirus transmission are going to be required to provide contact information and quarantine plans upon entering in Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

He announced the new requirements after state officials in neighboring New York instituted such a policy for visitors landing at New York airports.

Lamont said he is expecting the Connecticut policy to take effect this weekend.

The states of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have issued a tri-state travel advisory that generally directs travelers from states that have high rates of coronavirus to self-quarantine for 14 days. At this time, 19 states are on the watch list.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that air travelers to his state could face a $2,000 fine for failing to fill out a form that New York officials will use to track newly arrived visitors and ensure they are following quarantine restrictions.

Cuomo said enforcement teams will be stationed at airports to ensure compliance.

Lamont said Connecticut has no plans to impose fines for noncompliance, but left open the possibility of stronger enforcement actions if significant numbers of travelers ignore the voluntary quarantine directive.

He said there has been widespread compliance with state requirements for face coverings, social distancing and retail operations without the use of fines, so he is hoping to see the same with the quarantine guidelines.

“Let’s see how that goes for a couple of weeks. If we find we still have a lot of leaks in the bucket, we can think about other disincentives to make sure people take this even more seriously,” Lamont said.

The state’s policy will require air travelers fill out a form stating where they will be staying in Connecticut, explaining how they will be quarantining and listing traveling companions, he said.

“You’ll be filling out that form and giving it to us when you land,” Lamont said. “If we find somebody has tested positive on the flight or otherwise, it makes it easier for us to track and trace, and make sure we keep an eye on things.”

He said state officials could also use the information to check up on travelers.

CONNECTICUT IS NOT GOING to impose the same certification requirements on travelers who drive here from a high-risk state on the tri-state watch list.

“We’re not tracking down every out-of-state license plate,” he said.

Air travelers will be the priority and this group of visitors will be known as they arrive, so they will be easier to track, he said.

“I think that is where you’re going to get the most bang for the buck,” he said.

He said he believes the state has sent the message about its quarantine policy, and the tri-state advisory has received a lot of publicity since it was announced two weeks ago. He said there has been a 50% drop in air travel from states on the watch list.

The tri-state advisory applies to travelers from states that either have a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate higher than 10% over a rolling seven-day average.

The Connecticut policy exempts travelers if they have had a negative viral test for COVID-19 in the 72 hours before traveling here. Antibody tests are not acceptable.

A TOP PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL estimated that approximately 5% of Connecticut’s population of 3.5 million people have been infected with COVID-19.

State Epidemiologist Matthew L. Cartter said he expects the infection will continue to spread, and, while the outbreak has subsided from its peak, a resurgence is likely.

“This virus is just interested in infecting people, and there are a lot more of us who haven’t been infected,” he said.

He said he expects the state’s current pace of about 80-to-100 new daily cases will continue until they eventually start to increase. At this time, he said there is likely 10 infected people for every positive case that is reported, down from an earlier of 100-to-1.

The Department of Public Health on Monday reported 223 additional cases of COVID-19 since Friday, bringing the total to 47,510. There have been 587,331 tests done.

Another 23 deaths were reported on Monday, but Lamont said this figure included six fatalities recorded over the weekend, plus 17 deaths from other dates that had not been previously reported. There now have been 4,571 deaths associated with COVID-19.

The hospitalization rate declined. There was a net decrease of three patients over the weekend between new admissions and discharges to 74 statewide.

THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT reported Friday there have been 385 confirmed cases in Naugatuck and 55 in Beacon Falls. There have been 36 confirmed deaths associated with coronavirus and three probable deaths in Naugatuck, according to the health district, and none in Beacon Falls.

On Monday, the Chesprocott Health District reported there have been 72 cases in Prospect and no coronavirus-related deaths in town.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.