The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travelers from nine other U.S. states to quarantine for 14 days on arrival as COVID-19 showed signs of surging in areas not hit as hard by the initial outbreak.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the tough new mandate was “the smart thing to do” after the United States recorded its second-greatest increase in COVID-19 cases since in early March.
“We have taken our people, the three of us from these three states, through hell and back, and the last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round,” Murphy said. COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said that he did not believe the quarantine applied to President Donald Trump, who just returned from a visit to Arizona and was scheduled to be in New Jersey this weekend.
“The President of the United States is not a civilian. Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative,” Deere said.
New York City and surrounding areas were the early epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. More than 31,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York state, roughly one-quarter of the U.S. total, according to a Reuters tally.
The 14-day quarantine applies to visitors from mostly southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Utah, as well as tri-state residents returning from those areas.
The states are determined by the number of new cases per 100,000 people or the percent testing positive.
Violators of the order, which takes effect from midnight, could face fines of $1,000 for a first violation and $5,000 for repeat offenses, Cuomo said.
While the United States appeared to have tamped down the outbreak in May and states lifted sweeping stay-at-home orders, testing suggests the virus is moving into rural areas and other places that were initially not hit as hard.
The pandemic may also be resurgent in U.S. states that opened earlier than others in a bid to blunt the devastating effect of coronavirus restrictions on workers and local economies as unemployment rates shot up.
On Wednesday, three states reported record increases in new cases — Florida, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Earlier this week another seven states had record highs — Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming.
The surge in cases nationwide of nearly 36,000 on Tuesday was the highest since a record of 36,426 new infections on April 24.
At least four states are averaging double-digit rates of positive tests for the virus. By contrast, New York has been reporting positive test rates of around 1%.
While some of the increased numbers of cases can be attributed to more testing, the percentage of positive results is also climbing.
The average number of tests has risen 7.6% over the last seven days, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, while the average number of new cases rose 30%.
A newly revised model released on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. death toll would reach nearly 180,000 by Oct. 1, down 22,000 from the last prediction, according to University of Washington researchers.
The school’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated that some 33,000 lives could be saved if 95% of Americans consistently wear face coverings in public.