President Donald Trump asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a “strong” travel advisory on New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Saturday night after suggesting a federal quarantine on those states earlier in the day.
“A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump said, walking back his earlier statements.
Two hours after Trump’s announcement, the CDC officially issued the travel advisory, urging residents to refrain from “domestic travel” for at least 14 days.
Workers who are considered “employees of critical infrastructure industries”, including truckers, public health professionals, financial service and food supply workers, are exempt from the advisory.
Before leaving the White House earlier Saturday, Trump told reporters he was considering an “enforceable quarantine” of New York and the surrounding areas as part of a short-term plan to combat the coronavirus.
He told reporters he wanted to implement the measure in New York because of the extreme number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the state. He said surrounding states could be quarantined too.
“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,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.
“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,” he added.
The plan would have restricted people in New York and other federally quarantined states from traveling to other parts of the country and would have not impacted truckers or interstate trade.
“They’re having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers are going down. We don’t want that. Heavily infected,” Trump told reporters.
“This does not apply to people such as truckers from outside the New York area who are making deliveries or simply transiting through,” he said. “It won’t affect trade in any way.”
Shortly after he announced plans for the quarantine, Trump tweeted that a decision about whether to quarantine the region would be made shortly.
“A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly,” he wrote.
At his own press conference in Albany, New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he didn’t “know what that means” when asked about Trump’s possible quarantine of New York.
“I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you’d be accomplishing,” he said. “But I can tell you, I don’t even like the sound of it. Not even understanding what it is, I don’t like the sound of it.”