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New York City to Begin COVID-19 Checkpoints for Travelers From 35 States

Photo: Stock Unsplash Ivan Mani

Aug. 5, 2020 By Allie Griffin

New York City will set up random checkpoints at key entries into the city to identify people traveling from states with high COVID-19 infection rates and ensure they quarantine.

Sheriffs and other law enforcement workers will randomly select cars that cross major bridges and tunnels into the city to inquire if the driver has visited any of the 35 states on New York’s travel advisory list, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.

Both out-of-state residents and New Yorkers who recently visited any of the select states must quarantine for 14 days upon entering New York under the governor’s order enacted in June.

They cannot leave their home or hotel room unless for essential medical appointments or to get food or essential goods if delivery isn’t an option.

People who don’t follow the required quarantine could face up to $10,000 in fines in some cases, de Blasio said today.

The crackdown is meant to keep New York’s success at controlling the spread of the coronavirus intact.

New York City has had an infection rate below three percent for two months, however one in five new cases are from out-of-state travelers.

“New York State was right to put a 14-day mandatory quarantine in place,” de Blasio said at a morning press conference. “We need to make sure that quarantine becomes stronger every day, that that law comes to life more every day.”

Travelers coming in from one of the 35 states must fill out an online form with their contact info. Individuals who refuse to fill out the New York State Department of Health travel form are subject to a $2,000 fine.

Workers with the city’s Test and Trace Corps will call and text — or even show up at the front door of — travelers to ensure they are staying in place and quarantining. Corps members will also offer free food delivery, help with getting medications, phone calls with doctors and even free hotels for people in need of assistance during their 14-day isolation.

Corps members have made more than 86,000 phone calls and sent more than 20,000 texts to travelers coming into New York City from the designated high-risk states to date, according to the Executive Director of the NYC Test and Trace Corps, Ted Long.

“If we can’t get through to you on the phone, we’ve deployed teams that are now knocking on your door to check in with you and to make sure that you’re safe,” he said. “We know that it’s not easy to get through a two-week period of safe separation, but it’s incredibly important.”

De Blasio didn’t disclose exactly where the checkpoints would be set up, however Long said Test and Trace Corps teams would be deployed to Penn Station tomorrow.

Because the checkpoints are random, not every traveler coming from one of the 35 states will be checked — but the checkpoints send a clear message, de Blasio said.

“Important thing is that the checkpoints I think, are going to send a very powerful message that this quarantine law is serious and important and crucial and people have to follow it,” de Blasio said. “So, even if we’re not going to be able to reach every single person with a checkpoint, I think it’s going to help really get the message across.”

The travel advisory list as of Aug. 5 includes:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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