What to Know
- The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut implemented a joint quarantine restriction last month on travelers from viral hotspot states; travelers from certain states must self-isolate for 14 days
- As of Tuesday, 34 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, meet the criteria to be on the restricted list; the national death toll topped 150,000 on Tuesday as well, according to NBC News estimates
- As the national threat grows, so too does the one from slipping compliance locally; Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was "appalled' by video of a packed concert on Long Island over the weekend and has launched a probe
Three more states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico were added to the tri-state quarantine list Tuesday, bringing the current list of viral hotspots near 40 as the nation struggles to contain COVID-19 outbreaks the CDC has warned may already be beyond the nation's ability to control, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Cuomo said the national outlook has only darkened in recent weeks and continues to spiral. The U.S. death toll topped 150,000 on Tuesday, by NBC News estimates, and the number of hotspots on the restricted list has risen every single week since Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont jointly announced the travel restriction late last month in a bid to protect tri-state progress. At that point, New York led the nation in confirmed COVID cases. In the last week, both California and Florida have topped it.
"Across the nation, it is still very bad. So there are more states that have exceeded our threshold for quarantine," Cuomo said.
California and Florida are both on the tri-state restricted list, which Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota were also newly added to Tuesday, the latter for the second time. See all the places currently affected on the map below.
Out-of-state travel -- both in the form of visitors from hotspots and locals returning home from them -- has already been linked to new clusters in New York and New Jersey in recent weeks. According to the quarantine guidelines, travelers coming into the tri-state area from states averaging daily positive test rates of 10 percent or 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling period must self-isolate. Cuomo admits the quarantine itself is imperfect. He recently implemented a new mandatory health form for travelers landing at New York's airports to try to better enforce compliance with the quarantine in the Big Apple.
Failure to submit the form, which is also required for hotspot travelers who arrive in New York by other transmit means, could result in a $2,000 fine. The governor initially said hotel clerks or business partners could alert officials about violations, and that police officers who pull over out-of-state individuals for traffic infractions could enforce quarantine rules. It's not clear how many in total have been fined.
Cuomo says out-of-state travel is one of two key threats to New York's sustained progress; the other is slipping compliance locally. The two compound each other — and both appear to only be intensifying.
More than 150 bars and restaurants in New York City and Long Island were cited for COVID violations over a four-day period starting Friday, with Cuomo adding another 26 violations Monday night in the city. Twelve establishments in the five boroughs had their liquor licenses temporarily revoked over infractions ranging from maskless employees and customers to allowing people to congregate.
In total, more than 40 New York bars and restaurants have had their licenses pulled since March. Cuomo warned Monday for the second time in a week that he may have to shut down bars and restaurants in New York City all over again if compliance on the part of businesses and individuals doesn't improve.
"I need the NYPD to do a better job in New York City," Cuomo said Tuesday as it relates to enforcement.
While some bar owners have protested and have said they are being targeted, the state said that health must come first.
"Bad actors are putting both New Yorkers' health and our economic recovery at risk, and we will hold the 10% who are violating these rules accountable so the 90% who are following the rules can remain open," the New York State Liquor Authority said Tuesday. The group also said suspensions are used sparingly, and only in the worst cases.
It's not just bars and restaurants, though. Late Monday, Cuomo tweeted that he was "appalled" by a concert held in Southampton over the weekend. Video showed people piled on top of one another with no regard for social distancing. The governor said the state Department of Health would investigate, adding Tuesday that criminal liability may be involved.
It may be inevitable that New York sees a second wave of COVID, the governor says. His goal is to minimize the impact as much as possible.
"Where we are is a function of what we do. The numbers are the numbers that we make happen. We have to be diligent about our actions," Cuomo said. "If we get lazy and sloppy, numbers will go up. I need local governments to do their jobs."
New York's daily COVID deaths have fallen to the single or low double digits over the last month, even as states like California and Florida are just now reporting single-day records in fatalities for their states. Both states have still just lost a fraction of the number of people New York has lost to the virus. The Empire State's confirmed COVID death toll has topped 25,100, though the number of deaths probably or likely attributable to the virus in some way may top 30,000.
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. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
New Jersey has nearly 16,000 confirmed and probable COVID deaths. Both it and New York have slowed or paused their reopenings amid the record national surge. They're among at least 21 states that have done the same.
The entire state of New York is in Cuomo's fourth and final reopening phase, though New York City has taken a modified approach to the last two amid evidence that suggests heightened risk from enclosed spaces. Murphy still has no set date for New Jersey's entry into Stage 3, the final phase of his reopening.
He's not about to be pushed into setting one too early, either.
"The evidence is overwhelming that the virus is a lot more lethal indoors, particularly when you're sedentary, lack of ventilation, you're taking your mask off by definition to eat or drink," Murphy told CNN Monday. "We also saw what was happening in other states where the virus was raging, most of that from indoor activity. We said you know what, we want to get to indoor activity, our restaurants are getting crushed but we just did not think and continue to not think we're there yet in terms of doing it responsibly. I hope it will be sooner than later, but not yet."
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
The nation's top experts say the COVID threat may only disintegrate once a vaccine or effective treatment exists. Hopeful news on the first front came Monday. The biggest test yet of an experimental vaccine got underway, with the first of some 30,000 Americans rolling up their sleeves to receive shots created by the U.S. government as part of the all-out global race to stop the pandemic.
“I’m excited to be part of something like this. This is huge,” said Melissa Harting, a 36-year-old nurse who received an injection in Binghamton, New York.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday as well.