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Arizonans headed to New York could face mandatory quarantine

Arizonans headed to New York could face mandatory quarantine

From the June's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Bars, gyms face shutdowns; Tucsonans worried telemedicine might disappear series
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PHOENIX — Planning on a trip to the Big Apple?

Be prepared to spend two weeks locked away somewhere as a new directive from the governors of three Northeast states proves that sometimes what goes around comes around.

The chief executives of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Wednesday they would require a 14-day quarantine for visitors arriving from states which have “significant community spread.”

And that, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, includes Arizona and eight other states.

The order was to take effect just after midnight Thursday.

If the verbiage used by Cuomo sounds familiar, it should.

In April, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered a similar two-week quarantine for visitors to Arizona from areas with what he described as “substantial community spread.”

Ducey said at the time that his powers under state emergency laws allow him to tell new arrivals that they must go directly to their place of isolation or self-quarantine “and only leave that location for essential services.” And he said the move was aimed at the tri-state area of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York because it has become of COVID-19 hotspot.

That Arizona order has since expired as infection rates in those states have gone down.

But just the reverse is happening here.

Cuomo, in a joint announcement with his counterparts, said this isn’t meant to single out any particular state. He said the governors have come up with what they consider an infection rate that is unacceptable.

“Any state that goes over that infection rate, that state will be subject to the quarantine,” Cuomo explained.

That rate, he explained, is based on one of two standards: 10 positive cases for every 100,000 residents on a seven-day rolling average, or 10% of the total population testing positive.

New figures Wednesday from the Arizona Department of Health Services put the total percent of positive tests at 10.7%. And looking just at the past full week, the figure is 19%.

But part-week data for the current week shows a positive rate of 21%. And the Center for Bioscience at Arizona State University, doing its own reports, on Wednesday pegged the most recent seven-day average at 22.1%, its highest point ever.

Overall, the health department reported another 1,795 cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s tally to just slightly less than 60,000. There also were 79 deaths reported with the total now at 1,463.

The state also reported a new record of 2,270 individuals suffering from COVID-19 in hospital beds. ICU bed usage was 581, down from the prior day’s record of 614.

Overall, the health department said that 86 percent of hospital beds and 88 percent of ICU beds were in use by all types of patients, though the agency has yet to reimpose limits on elective surgeries despite the governor’s prior order saying these would be put back in place at facilities where the average exceeded 80 percent.

Cuomo, in announcing the quarantine on Arizonans and others, said it’s not personal.

“It’s only for the simple reason that we worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down,” he explained. “We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called it “a smart thing to do.”

“We, the three of us, have taken our states through hell and back,” he said.

“The last thing we need to do right now is to subject our folks to another round,” Murphy continued. “This virus is risky enough on its own in terms of the potential to flare back up.”

That sentiment was echoed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont shared a similar sentiment.

“We’re not an island,” he said. “As we look around the rest of the country we have seen not just spikes but we’ve seen real community spread, better than 10 percent positivity rate, in a number of these states that we’re talking about right now.”

Other states subject to the quarantine, according to Cuomo, include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

Ducey press aide Patrick Ptak said his boss is not focused on the order.

“These states can make decisions they consider most appropriate, just as we have and will continue to do,” he said.”Our complete focus is on slowing and containing the spread in Arizona and ensuring care for those who are infected by the virus.”

Cuomo said each of the three states will do its own enforcement.

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