By Meena Venkataramanan, Texas Tribune
Visitors from Texas will soon have to quarantine for 14 days if they travel to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, according to the three states’ governors, who also took aim Wednesday at Texas’ handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
The move comes as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations hit record highs in Texas, surpassing 5,000 new cases in a single day Tuesday and making the state one of the country’s coronavirus hot spots.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, all Democrats, held a joint press conference Wednesday to announce the policy, which will affect nine states whose infection rates have met thresholds indicating “significant community spread,” including Texas, Arizona and Florida, according to reports.
“We need to do things right inside the four walls in our respective states,” Murphy told reporters.
The restriction on Texas travelers marks a notable shift in which states are being flagged nationwide for the most alarming increases of coronavirus cases. Earlier in the pandemic, Texas touted comparatively low hospitalization rates and was pointing the finger at other states where the virus was raging.
In late March, Texas imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington and California — some of the early coronavirus hot spots. The state also mandated quarantines for those driving or flying to Texas from neighboring Louisiana, or flying from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit or Chicago. Those orders have since been lifted.
Gov. Greg Abbott struck a new tone of urgency at his Tuesday news conference, encouraging Texans to stay home as much as possible and to wear masks when they can’t practice social distancing. Texas was one of the earliest states to begin reopening businesses, which Abbott intends to continue, he said.
Meanwhile, other states in the Northeast have expressed concern over Texas’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Those states that had this blind, ‘OK, let’s do whatever we want to do, and we’ll reopen immediately,’ they have serious problems now,” Cuomo said on the Today show earlier Wednesday. New York was previously the hardest-hit state in the country.
Cuomo defended New York’s response to the pandemic, which included weeks of shutting down businesses and public spaces that ultimately lowered infection and death rates.
“Anyone who thinks we could have opened sooner, look at Florida, look at Arizona, look at Texas, look at the other 23 states that are going up, and it shows that we were smart and right,” he said.
Murphy indicated the move was necessary to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus.
“We’ve taken our people … through hell and back,” Murphy said. “This virus is risky enough on its own, in terms of the potential to flare back up.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, which bore the bulk of New York’s coronavirus cases, reaffirmed the need to be cautious about travelers from other states.
“It’s clear … there is a problem in a number of other states. and we have to be very careful about the impact that would have on New York,” de Blasio said Wednesday.
Abbott’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.