The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travellers from eight U.S. states to quarantine for 14 days on arrival and Disney said it would delay reopening its amusement parks as the novel coronavirus showed alarming spikes in the South and West.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the tough new quarantine mandate was “the smart thing to do” after the United States recorded its second-greatest increase in COVID-19 cases since 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 of the three governors, all Democrats. 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.
The Walt Disney Co. said in a statement that it would delay a planned July 17 reopening of its theme parks and resort hotels as it waits for guidelines from the state of California.
New York City was 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 and Utah, as well as tri-state residents returning from those areas.
The governor of Washington said his state was included in error and that the order did not apply to residents there. The quarantine states are determined by a formula based on the number of new cases.
Violators of the quarantine rule face $1,000 fines for a first violation and $5,000 for repeat offenses, Cuomo said.
STATES SET NEW ALL-TIME HIGHS
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 has moved 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 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 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 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.