Hours after announcing Saturday that he was considering a federally enforced quarantine on New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, President Trump backed off the idea but said he had asked for a “strong Travel Advisory.”
Later that night, the CDC urged residents of the three states to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel” for 14 days starting immediately. In a statement, the agency said the travel advisory does not apply to employees of “critical infrastructure industries,” such as trucking, public health, financial services and food supply.
A quarantine on the tri-state area “will not be necessary,” Trump tweeted Saturday night, after the prospect drew sharp criticism from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and confusion from other leaders in the region. In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Cuomo called a potential quarantine “preposterous” and likened that sort of plan to a “declaration of war.”
The decision to forgo a quarantine and instead ask the CDC for a travel advisory was made at the recommendation of the White House coronavirus task force and in consultation with the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Trump said. He said the travel advisory would be administered by governors “in consultation with the federal government.”
The CDC affirmed in its statement that the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut “will have full discretion” to implement the new guidelines.
New York has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with the state reporting more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 700 deaths Saturday. New York City alone has seen 200-plus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to local officials.
But Cuomo had questioned the legality of the strict new measure Trump floated to contain the outbreak in the region.
“This would be a declaration of war on states, a federal declaration of war, and it wouldn’t just be New York, New Jersey, Connecticut,” Cuomo said earlier Saturday. “Next week, it would be Louisiana with New Orleans, and the week after that, it would be Detroit and Michigan, and it would run across the nation.”