Role reversal: NY, NJ, Conn. to quarantine visitors from Florida, other states

3 months ago Florida issued ordered quarantine of New York area visitors to limit spread of coronavirus

Two months ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the Florida Highway Patrol to set up a checkpoint near the Florida-Georgia border to screen for travelers coming from COVID-19 hot spots like New York City.
Two months ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the Florida Highway Patrol to set up a checkpoint near the Florida-Georgia border to screen for travelers coming from COVID-19 hot spots like New York City. (News4Jax)

NEW YORK – New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will require visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, the states’ three governors announced Wednesday.

That list of states includes Florida, which -- three months ago today -- ordered visitors from New York to the Sunshine State to quarantine back when New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic.

“We now have to make sure the rates continue to drop,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at a video briefing with Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont of Connecticut, both fellow Democrats. “We also have to make sure the virus doesn’t come on a plane again.”

What was presented as a “travel advisory'' affects three adjacent Northeastern states that, after time, were able to check the spread of the virus this spring after New York City became a hot spot for the pandemic.

And the governors are now warily eying other states with rising caseloads, trying to keep history from repeating itself.

“This is a smart thing to do,‘' Murphy said. “We have taken our people, the three of us ... to hell and back. The last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round.‘'

The states’ health departments will provide details of how the rule will work, Murphy said. Visitors to New York from affected states will be informed that they need to quarantine and that violators could face a mandatory quarantine and a fine, Cuomo said.

The quarantine is voluntary but “urgent guidance,‘' Lamont said at a briefing in Hartford, noting it will be enforced differently in each state. Connecticut is considering putting up signs at entry points and getting the word out via social media.

The announcement comes as summer travel to the states’ beaches, parks and other attractions -- not to mention New York City -- would normally swing into high gear.

Visitors from states over a set infection rate will have to quarantine. As of Wednesday, states over the threshold were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

New York City couple in Jacksonville

Newlyweds Ali and Jeff Starr are New Yorkers who came to visit family in Jacksonville while New York City was essentially shut down when the virus was a big problem there.

“What really drove us out on top of the fact that we were even getting nervous going to grocery stores,” Ali Starr said.

Ali is originally from Jacksonville; Jeff from New York. They decided to quarantine for three weeks in Atlanta before entering Florida in April.

“We understood, honestly,” she said.

Now they’re seeing cases rising here plan to head back to New York City after the Forth of July. They expect they’ll have to spend two weeks in quarantine before they can get back to their offices and into the swing of things.

How many did Florida quarantine?

Our sister station, WKMG-TV in Orlando, tried to find out how many people Florida screened as they came into the state from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Lousiana -- which was also an early hotspot included in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order on quarantining travelers -- and what follow-up was done with those people. The station was told the Florida Highway Patrol, National Guard and health department personnel were all involved in the process and exact numbers were difficult to produce.

“The Florida Highway Patrol has conducted nearly 900 checks to ensure compliance with the executive order,” Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Director of Communications Aaron Keller said.

“I can tell you we screen over 50,000 people coming from the New York City area and Louisiana. Most of it has been airplane travel into the state of Florida, some on I-95 and some on I-10,” DeSantis told WKMG in answer to a question at a news conference.

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