- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2020

Gothamites seek to escape from New York are increasingly running into resistance from federal officials and governors worried about the out-of-staters bringing the coronavirus with them.

The Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory Saturday urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from “non-essential domestic travel” for 14 days amid reports that the tri-state residents are fleeing the coronavirus-ravaged region.

Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that New Yorkers have exited the Big Apple in the last 10 days as the number of COVID-19 cases has soared, resulting in surges in popular destination spots.

“[A] lot of people who could leave New York left New York,” Dr. Birx told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And so we immediately saw cases rising out on Long Island and cases rising in southern Florida. What we’re trying to say to everyone is when this virus comes to your metro area, please stay in your metro area where your care can be provided because it’s spreading virus more quickly around the United States.”

President Trump raised the idea of a tri-state quarantine over the weekend before dismissing it, saying at Sunday’s press briefing that “it’s very hard to enforce.”

“They didn’t want New Yorkers where they’ve having a problem necessarily going down to Florida where they have less of a problem,” Mr. Trump said. “So the concept of quarantine was thrown out to me—really, would love to do it, they would love to do it—and I thought it was too much to do.”

Meanwhile, some states have taken action to monitor the flood of out-of-state arrivals. Over the weekend, the Florida and Texas governors issued travel advisories aimed at screening drivers from hot spots, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order over the weekend setting up checkpoints at the state borders to flag out-of-state drivers and instruct them to self-isolate for 14 days, expanding on his order last week for air travelers from highly infected states.

At a Saturday press conference, Mr. DeSantis said authorities at Jacksonville International Airport intercepted Friday a man from New York who had previously tested positive for COVID-19.

“His symptoms abated so he thought it was okay to fly. Turns out the symptoms came back, so he was intercepted when he came through the checkpoint and he was diverted to go to a hospital,” said the Republican governor. “And so that’s something that I think helps protect Floridians.”

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a travel advisory Sunday mandating a 14-day self-quarantine from road travelers from Louisiana, building on his previous order for a quarantine on air passengers from New Orleans and the New York tri-state area.

The Republican governor also expanded his air-travel quarantine to include flyers from California, Louisiana and Washington, as well as Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that his intraparty feud with Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo had been resolved. She said earlier this month that anyone arriving from his state would need to self-quarantine, pointing out that “more than half of the cases of coronavirus in America are in New York.”

After Mr. Cuomo threatened to sue, Ms. Raimondo expanded the order Saturday to encompass any out-of-state travelers.

“That executive order has been repealed by the state of Rhode Island and we thank them for their cooperation,” Mr. Cuomo said at his press briefing.

‘Looking more like New York

New York leads the United States in coronavirus cases, with 59,513 confirmed diagnoses and 956 dead, Mr. Cuomo said. The state saw a surge of 273 deaths in 24 hours, the largest one-day increase since the pandemic reached U.S. shores earlier this year after originating in Wuhan, China.

Even before Mr. Trump extended his 15-day stay-at-home order to April 30, state officials had begun to expand their mandates. Mr. Cuomo stretched Sunday his two-week stay-at-home order for non-essential workers to April 15.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that “we don’t see any way that we’re going to be opening back up in a couple of weeks.”

“The Washington metropolitan area — Maryland, D.C. and Virginia — has quadrupled [in the number of cases] in the past week, and we see that continuing to grow exponentially, and we think in two weeks around Easter, we’re going to be looking a lot more like New York,” Mr. Hogan said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Coming under fire Sunday for his coronavirus response was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spent weeks urging New Yorkers to “go about your lives” even as the fast-moving virus arrived on U.S. shores after ravaging China, Iran and Italy.

Asked Sunday about whether his message was in part to blame for the virus’s rapid spread, Mr. de Blasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper that this was no time for hindsight.

“Well, Jake, we should not be focusing in my view on anything looking back on any level of government right now,” Mr. de Blasio said on “State of the Union.” “This is just about how we save lives going forward. We all were working, everybody was working with the information we had, and trying of course to avoid panic.”

The virus killed thousands in China before the epicenter shifted to South Korea, followed by Europe and the Americas. The first case was diagnosed in Washington state on Jan. 21.

The United States has the most confirmed coronavirus cases at 139,675, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, although Mr. Trump said that the nation also does the most testing. Nearly 2,500 Americans have died from the illness.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, estimated Sunday that U.S. deaths would reach more than 100,000 deaths and “millions” of cases would be diagnosed, although he called it a “moving target.”

“We have a very difficult problem here,” said Dr. Fauci on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have areas of the country, such as the New York area. We’re going to be places like Detroit and other cities starting to get into trouble.”

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