The COVID-19 rebound has slowly crept toward the Northeast, an area the virus slammed in March and April, as the number of travel-advisory “hotspot” states surges to 31, including neighbors Delaware and nearby Maryland.
In a Tuesday announcement, the Murphy administration added 10 states, removing Minnesota from the list, and bringing on Maryland for the first time, and Delaware for a second time.
The ten states from which travelers are told to self isolate are rounded out by Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.
Travelers from any of the list’s total 31 states – up from 22 states a week ago – are urged to self-isolate for 14 days, as part of a tri-state pact with Connecticut and New York.
The complete quarantine list:
New Jersey’s orders are voluntary, Gov. Phil Murphy said, unlike the $2,000 fines New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will levy against out-of-state air travelers who do not cooperate with public health officials.
Though that could change in the near future, with New Jersey health officials saying they may take a page out of the New York playbook to keep the COVID-19 nationwide surge at bay in the Garden State, beyond the already-quickening spread of the virus within the state.
“We expected, as we opened the state slowly … we’d take on more risk,” Murphy said at a Monday media appearance. “I did not expect Armageddon in Florida, in Texas, or Arizona or California or South Carolina. This has added more risk for New Jersey.”
New Jersey has seen a rebound of the virus, albeit infinitely smaller and slower than surges in states like California, Florida and Texas.
The nonprofit “COVID Act Now,” which frequently lists New Jersey as one of the few states able to properly contain the virus, once again took the state off of that small list on July 20.
New Jersey’s infection rate of 0.90 means the virus is “still spreading, but slowly.” And the headcount of 800 contact tracers means the state is “likely able to trace 60 percent of new COVID infections in 48 hours.”
“At these lower levels of tracing, it is unlikely New Jersey will be able to successfully identify and isolate sources of disease spread fast enough to prevent new outbreaks,” the nonprofit said.
Meanwhile, the state’s reopening, according to Murphy, will be in a “holding pattern” for the near future—meaning additional restrictions on businesses will not be rolled back beyond what was done in June, when reduced capacity at casinos, indoor shopping at malls, outdoor dining, nail and hair salons, and outdoor recreation resumed.
Indoor dining and gyms will continue to be closed off for the foreseeable future, much to the dismay of business owners who expect to feel significant financial pain as a result.
Other restrictions in New Jersey include a mandate that masks be worn both indoors and outdoors, whenever physical distancing is not possible, such as on boardwalks.
Those measures, in addition to the 14-day self-quarantine, are meant to stave off the COVID-19 rebound in New Jersey as much as possible. And, they play considerably larger factors as the nationwide surge of the virus drags testing turnaround time to at least a week, even though New Jersey has an ample number of test kits.
New Jersey’s ability to keep restrictions lifted on businesses, travel and public gatherings counts on considerable testing capability and quick turnaround time, as well as contact tracing, whereby anyone who’s been in touch with someone with the virus is advised to get tested, and to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“[A]bsolutely we would recommend testing, but actually testing wouldn’t change the fact that we tell you to stay home for two weeks,” Ed Lifshitz, the state health department’s communicable disease services medical director, said at a June 25 briefing.