CDC issues "strong travel advisory" for New York

"A quarantine will not be necessary"

WBEN Newsroom
March 28, 2020 - 8:27 pm
President Donald Trump

AP Photo

Washington DC (WBEN) - President Donald Trump backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.

The notion of a quarantine had been advocated by governors, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who sought to halt travelers from the heavily affected areas to their states. But it drew swift criticism from the leaders of the states in question, who warned it would spark panic in a populace already suffering under the virus.

Trump announced he reached the decision after consulting with the White House task force leading the federal response and the governors of the three states. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government.”

He added: “A quarantine will not be necessary.”

Late Saturday the CDC issued this advisory:

"Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.  This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply.  These employees of critical infrastructure, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastruct... icon), have a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules.  The Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has criticized the federal government’s response as his state became the country’s virus epicenter, said roping off states would amount to “a federal declaration of war.” Cuomo said the prospect of a quarantine didn’t come up when he spoke with Trump earlier Saturday, adding that he believed it would be illegal, economically catastrophic, “preposterous” and shortsighted when other parts of the U.S. are seeing cases rise, too.

“If you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American, anti-social,” Cuomo told CNN. He added that locking down the nation’s financial capital would shock the stock market and “paralyze the economy” at a time when Trump has indicated he’s itching to get the economy back on track.

Trump made his remarks while on a trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off a U.S. Navy hospital ship heading to New York City to help with the pandemic. At the event, he spoke to a sparse crowd at the naval base and cautioned Americans to take virus protections, even though he himself, at 73, is in a high-risk category and among those who have been advised to refrain from all non-essential travel.

The federal government is empowered to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it’s not clear that means Trump can ban people from leaving their state. It has never been tested in the modern era — and in rare cases when any quarantine was challenged, the courts generally sided with public health officials.

Courts have ruled consistently for years that the authority to order quarantines inside states rests almost entirely with the states, under provisions in the Constitution ceding power not explicitly delegated to the federal government to states. The federal government, though, would have power under constitutional clauses regulating commerce to quarantine international travelers or those traveling state to state who might be carriers of deadly diseases.

Comments ()