President Donald Trump backed off his plans for a two-week quarantine for New York City and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut that have been hit hard by the coronavirus, opting instead for a "strong travel advisory" to be administered by the governors of those three states.
The advisory was announced (on Twitter) by Vice President Mike Pence and posted on the CDC website. It says:
"The CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately. This Domestic Travel Advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply."
"These employees of critical infrastructure, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforceexternal icon) have a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedule. The Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory."
Earlier in the day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed caught off guard by Trump's threat of a quarantine, insisting that he and the president had never discussed the matter - despite Trump's claim to the contrary.
The governor said a quarantine from the White House would be tantamount to a "federal declaration of war, on states" predicting "chaos and mayhem" if the president went through with the idea. He also questioned whether such a move would even be legal.
Cuomo said he did not see how such a move could be enforced, or what the benefit of it would be. This verbal spat came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York climbed above 52,000 - the most in the U.S.
There have been 728 deaths statewide linked to the infection. About 7,300 people were hospitalized yesterday in New York, including about 1,800 in intensive care.
In New York City, which is the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., the reported death toll grew by 155 people from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., health officials said. Overall, there have been 672 deaths as of yesterday afternoon, up from 450 on Friday afternoon — 222 deaths in 24 hours.
The city reported 30,765 cases yesterday afternoon, up 5.5 percent since a10 a.m. report of 29,158 cases, and 15 percent since the Friday night report of 26,697 cases.