Will Trump Quarantine New Yorkers Attempting to Flee the Coronavirus? That's what has been threatened, by tweet of course, along with New Jersey and part of Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Florida, Rhode Island, Texas, and other states have also instituted self-quarantine orders for those arriving from New York or who have spent time in the state recently. And to be sure, the coronavirus numbers in New York are high. As of time of writing:
- >52,000 positive COVID-19 cases in New York state
- >700 deaths in New York state
- >29,000 positive COVID-19 cases in NYC
- NYC cases are increasing at ~3000 per day
- ~20% of NYC cases have required hospitalization
Coronavirus Community Spread
That said, while New York is hard hit, particularly because of NYC, there are already at least 13 other states with >1000 positive coronavirus cases (and that's just diagnosed cases–we still don't know the true number of cases due to the lack of testing), in every case with some community spread. Stay at home orders are a good idea not just for arrivals from New York, but for everyone at this point, to try to help local hospitals avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Quarantine vs. Stay at Home
New Yorkers are already under a Stay at Home order, but we can go out for groceries and essential supplies, as well as exercise. A quarantine is different: it usually only applies to people who have tested positive for a disease and are ordered to stay in their room and not leave for any reason, with the possible exception of seeking medical care. In these cases food and supplies must be brought to them, as they shouldn't be mixing at all, even with social distancing, with the general public.
Why a New York Quarantine Doesn't Make Sense
That's why quarantining an entire state (or three), at this stage in the U.S.'s coronavirus trajectory, doesn't make sense. Many, many New Yorkers have already fled NYC and the state, whether for Florida, California, or other places where they have another home or have family or friends. Our own building, our neighborhood, the streets have emptied out. My local Whole Foods, which used to have long lines at pretty much all times of day, now has no lines at all for the cash registers (the automated check-out stations have been shut down due to potential contamination). In short, most of the people that could leave and wanted to leave have already left.
As always, our government is a few weeks (or months, or years) behind the curve. The time for pandemic planning and preparing stockpiles of PPE was after SARS. The time to roll out massive testing, temperature checks for arrivals, and contact tracing for the novel coronavirus was in January and early February, not now. If we'd had Singapore's and Taiwan's level of coronavirus preparedness and early, coordinated action, we might not have had to close the number of schools non-essential businesses that we have, or be facing the levels of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths that we now are. But mandating a quarantine of New York (and possibly New Jersey and Connecticut), in the absence of other intrastate and interstate travel restrictions, will be about as effective as the ban on arrivals from European Schengen countries that started 3/14/20–that is, pretty ineffective, since there was already plenty of community transmission within the U.S. by that point, we just didn't (and still don't) have a grasp of the extent, due to the lack of testing.
With NYC's hospitals already becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, and now the threat of a quarantine, it's beginning to look like a large scale version of the Diamond Princess debacle in Yokohama.
Any other New Yorkers out there not liking the sound of a New York quarantine?
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