New Jersey, New York and Connecticut now have a list of 35 states and territories from which travelers need to self-quarantine for 14 days after one more state was added Tuesday evening.
Under the announcement, no states were removed from the growing list of nationwide COVID-19 hotspots, while New Mexico was added.
The self-quarantine recommendation from the three states, among the hardest hit by the pandemic in March and April, applies to any state with a positive test rate of 10 per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate higher than 10 percent, both over a seven-day rolling average.
“We know that COVID-19 is a virus of opportunity, and if we let our guard down and grow complacent, we open a window of opportunity for future outbreaks,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a Tuesday evening statement.
“It remains critically important for anyone arriving to New Jersey from these 35 states and territories to get tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine for 14 days,” he continued.
The other 34 states and territories are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Last Thursday, President Donald Trump spent time at a campaign rally in Minnesota before traveling to his Bedminster golf club for a high-dollar fundraiser with supporters—effectively ignoring the 14-day self-quarantine and drawing Murphy’s ire, who described Trump’s behavior as reckless. He, along with many senior White House and administration officials in his close circle, later tested positive for COVID-19.
New Jersey has seen a rebound of COVID-19 in several parts of the state, such as in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish-majority Ocean County community of Lakewood, and more recently Monmouth County.
Murphy has suggested that he might impose hyperlocal “scalpel” restrictions for just Lakewood, rather than statewide restrictions as had been imposed in March and April on travel, public gatherings and tens of thousands of non-essential businesses like restaurants, gyms, hair and nail salons, movie theaters and many forms of retail.
“A blunt statewide instrument looks less required as opposed to a scalpel” approach, Murphy said at a Monday afternoon COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton.
Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, also said at an event at Rowan University on Tuesday that the level of restrictions enacted in March and April might not be necessary,
“I think we all understand how difficult the March and April timeframe was,” Birx said. “The message we’re trying to convey to the Northeast is it won’t look like that this time. What will happen now is going to be very different than March and April, that was very much a large metro spread.”
Rather, Birx maintained, “the majority of spread occurs in communities between families, neighbors and events that occur at the community level.”
Restrictions would be enacted as such, Birx said, and indeed, Murphy said on Monday that restrictions would be done in coordination with township and county officials.