NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a "strong travel advisory" for parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after President Donald Trump's earlier call for a temporary quarantine of the Tri-State Area received push back from the governors of the three states.
The president announced the new plan to stem the spread of the outbreak Saturday evening on Twitter and said it would be administered by the governors in consultation with the federal government.
He adds that a quarantine will not be necessary.
The CDC is urging residents of the three states to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately. This does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply.
The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory.
Earlier the president had said he was considering a temporary quarantine for parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’d like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot—New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined," Trump told reporters. "I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it, but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine—short term, two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.”
“We’re looking at it and will be making a decision,” Trump said. “A lot of the states that are infected—they’ve asked me if I’d look at it so we’re going to look at it. Maybe for a short period of time.”
Trump also said the New York subway system wouldn't be closed.
Asked at a Saturday afternoon press conference if he’d talked with the president about the potential quarantine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had not.
“I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine,” Cuomo said. “I haven’t had those conversations. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable.”
On CNN Saturday night, Cuomo said he didn't think such an order would be legal and that it would lead to "economic chaos."
"I can't remember the last time this country said, 'We're going to contain you in an area.' I don't even believe it's legal. You have all sorts of provisions—state's rights, interstate commerce, etc. So it's a preposterous idea, frankly," Cuomo said. "And again it's totally opposite what the president wants to do, which is work with the states, help the states, get the economy running, and bring some sense of stability. You wouldn't at this point literally fracture the entire nation."
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont issued a statement saying, “Our state has already called on residents to stay at home. Further, if interstate travel is absolutely necessary, our state has directed travelers to self-quarantine to prevent against further transmission of the virus. I have been in close communication with Governor Cuomo and Governor Murphy, and I look forward to speaking to the President directly about his comments and any further enforcement actions, because confusion leads to panic.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the possible quarantine "unworkable, unenforceable, and possibly unconstitutional."
"It is also unsupported by medical or scientific facts. It’s more Trump ad hoc edict based on impulse, not informed judgment," Blumenthal said in a statement. “The specifics and impact of this proposed action are still deeply unclear and uncertain. The effect may be more confusion than confidence. Confusion fosters fear. Governor Lamont has been strong and effective in his leadership instructing Connecticut’s people to self-quarantine and stay at home if possible. President Trump should be collaborating with the governors, which he has failed to do. The governors have been ahead of federal authorities in their courageous and steadfast leadership, and their insights and input should be heeded.”
The federal government is empowered under the law to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it's not clear that means Trump can order state residents to stay put.
But before Trump spoke in Norfolk, Virginia, as a U.S. Navy medical ship left for New York City to help with pandemic response there, he tweeted: “I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.”
Speaking in front of the USNS Comfort minutes later, Trump said: "In a few moments the crew of the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, which is really something, will embark for New York City, where they will join the ranks of tens of thousands of amazing doctors, nurses and medical professionals who are battling to save American lives."
"This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York, a place I know very well, a place I love," the president said. "We're here for you, we're fighting for you and and we are with you all the way and we always will be."
Trump said the Comfort's arrival in Virginia was four weeks ahead of schedule after undergoing maintenance and that the ship would be arriving at Pier 90 in Manhattan on Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule. The ship's crew will begin treating people on Tuesday.
Trump said the ship's purpose will be to treat patients who don't have the coronavirus, freeing up hospital space in the five boroughs.
"The skilled sailors and civilian members aboard this ship will provide a critical surge capacity for the New York metropolitan area," Trump said. "Importantly, by treating non-infected patients remotely on the ship, it will help to halt very strongly the transmission of the virus."
Calling New York, New Jersey and Connecticut a "hot area," Trump reiterated his interest in possibly quarantining the Tri-State, saying the decision will come "very quickly, very shortly."
"This does not apply to people such as truckers from outside the New York area who are making deliveries or simply transiting through. It won't affect trade in any way," Trump said.
The president sounded a note of optimism, saying the coronavirus will be defeated.
"With the courage of our doctors and nurses, with the skill of our scientists and innovators, with the determination of the American people and with the grace of God, we will win this war, and we will win this war quickly with as little death as possible. And when we achieve this victory we will emerge stronger and more united than ever before. We are going to be at a level of preparedness in case something like this should ever happen again and God willing it won't. But we are prepared."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)