Coronavirus: Trump weighs ‘quarantine’ of New York, nearby states

A NYPD officer patrols Times Square as rain falls on March 28, 2020 in New York City. US President Donald Trump said on March 28, 2020 that he’s considering a short-term quarantine of New York state, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. (AFP)
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Updated 28 March 2020

Coronavirus: Trump weighs ‘quarantine’ of New York, nearby states

  • The harshest measure yet by the US government in the face of the coronavirus pandemic could isolate over 10 million people
  • A decision “will be made, one way or another, shortly,” Trump said

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Saturday he is weighing placing a two-week quarantine on New York and nearby states, the US epicenter of coronavirus infections, to slow the spread of the disease to other parts of the country.
The harshest measure yet by the US government in the face of the coronavirus pandemic could isolate over 10 million people in the country’s most densely populated region, and would come as total infections across the country have passed 115,000.
Trump indicated he could make a decision later Saturday, even as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Trump hadn’t mentioned the idea in a phone call earlier in the day.
“There’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short-term, two weeks — on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” he said as he left the White House.
The measure would be aimed at restricting travel from the crowded region to other parts of the United States, especially the southern state of Florida, a popular winter destination for New Yorkers and others in the northern part of the country.
Trump himself has residences in New York and Florida.
“Because they’re having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers are going down. We don’t want that. Heavily infected,” Trump said.
Later the US leader confirmed the idea on Twitter. A decision “will be made, one way or another, shortly,” he said.
The New York area has been the most seriously hit by COVID-19 in the United States, with more than 52,000 cases in New York state.
Cuomo said a quarantine had not come up in his talks with Trump Saturday morning.
“I don’t even know what that means,” Cuomo told a press briefing.
“I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing,” Cuomo 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,” he said.
The number of COVID-19 infections in Florida is much lower than New York, topping 3,700 Saturday according to USA Today.
On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order mandating two-week self-quarantines for anyone arriving or recently arrived from New York.
On Friday he made the same order for people coming from Louisiana, another coronavirus hotspot, and said police will put up checkpoints along the state line.
He also announced a two-week suspension of vacation rentals in Florida to discourage visitors.
“All we are trying to do is keep our residents here safe. If you are coming from one of the epicenters... don’t come here because we are trying to protect our folks,” he said.
But with coronavirus in all 50 states, experts said a quarantine on an area as large as the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region might not be as useful as other more targeted measures.
Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease expert with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told CNN it would not really work.
“Certainly it does not help New York do anything. It cuts us off from everyone else,” he said.
“But the virus is all over the country now... So the notion that we can sort of blame New York and wall it off, and build a wall around Manhattan, that’s nuts.”


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.