6 States Come Off Quarantine List, Puerto Rico Added as New U.S. Travel Policy Sows Confusion

Meanwhile, the U.S. government says it will no longer screen travelers from certain countries for COVID symptoms; the CDC said that policy had limited effect but travelers say they're confused by the new protocols

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What to Know

  • Currently, travelers from 30 "hotspot" states and territories must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut
  • Those traveling to Connecticut from hotspots will now be excluded from the quarantine order if they provide a negative COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours before travel, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. government says it will no longer screen travelers from certain countries for COVID symptoms; the CDC said that policy had limited effect but travelers say they're confused by the new protocols

A week after health officials warned Labor Day weekend could bring a possible uptick in COVID-19 cases, that holiday doesn't appear to have contributed to a surge in New York -- but out-of-state travel is still considered one of the core threats to the state's low infection rate.

Puerto Rico was added back to the tri-state quarantine list Tuesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced, while six states -- California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio -- were removed, bringing the number of restricted U.S. areas to 30. Travelers to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from those 30 places must quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tri-state area.

The rolling list, which applies to U.S. states and jurisdictions with a seven-day COVID positivity rate of 10 percent or higher, initially was announced jointly in late June by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Phil Murphy and Lamont in an effort to protect their states' hard-earned progress against COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, the restricted areas include: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Those traveling to Connecticut from hotspots will now also have the option of providing a negative COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours before travel, Lamont announced Monday. The change simplifies the old policy, which provided a number of exclusions to the quarantine option, according to Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe. Travel forms with contact information will still be required.

The leeway comes as the U.S. government announced changes to its screening policy as it relates to international travel. No longer will the government screen passengers from certain countries for symptoms. The CDC said that policy had little effect and it was shifting focus to individual passengers, "pre-departure in-flight and post-arrival health education" and "robust illness response at airports."

Travelers arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport told News 4 Monday they were confused by the new protocol.

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region

Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here


Some still may be confused by the tri-state quarantine order itself, the substance of which and potential penalties for noncompliance vary across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has up to 20 percent of the five boroughs' COVID cases have stemmed from out-of-state travel, has added a slew of measures to help enforce the isolation order in recent weeks.

Last week, the mayor said sheriff deputies would begin stopping buses from hotspots before they arrive at Port Authority to dole out the travel contact forms. He has also authorized random vehicular checkpoints and ordered hotels to deny travelers room access if they refuse to fill out the form.

The travel restriction is just one means of protecting NewYork from a surge in virus cases. The other key measure involves New Yorkers protecting themselves, including by wearing face coverings. Gov. Andrew Cuomo just launched a new campaign with actor Paul Rudd targeting milennials on that front.

"The government is not telling you to wear a mask. Your wife is telling you to wear a mask. Your kid is telling you to wear a mask. Your neighbor is telling you to wear a mask," Cuomo said in a radio interview Tuesday. "It’s not for you, it’s for them. Don’t be selfish.”

The push for masks comes as New York's streak of consecutive days having COVID positivity rates below one percent ended Tuesday — if just barely. According to Cuomo, of the 73,678 test results reported, 766 were positive, or 1.04 percent.

On the reopening front, Cuomo is relying on New York City residents to police New York City residents compliance-wise when indoor dining is allowed to resume in the five boroughs later this month. Few major business sectors are left to return, and it's anyone's guess as to when concerts or sporting events might be back.

Asked about that Tuesday, Cuomo said, "I’m not in this job to cause people pain, so help me God. I want to say yes to everything,” but noted, "I have my foot on the pedal as far as I can just to keep" the infection rate below 1 percent.

He did say, though, he would not ban trick-or-treating in New York this Halloween; some had speculated he might do that by executive order.

In an interview with News 12 on Long Island Tuesday, Cuomo said he would give parents "my advice and guidance" but wouldn't formally ban door-to-door treating. He's not exactly going to tell parents they should take their kids out either.

"If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I'm not going to tell you, you can't take your child through the neighborhood," Cuomo told News 12. "I'm not going to do that. I'm going to give you my advice and guidance, and then you will make the decision what you will do that night."

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