Rhode Island authorities are rounding up residents of other states as part of a crackdown meant to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Saturday issued an executive order requiring a 14-day quarantine for any person traveling to Rhode Island from any other state. The order replaced a previous version that applied only to people coming from New York.
“Any person coming to Rhode Island from another state for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days,” according to updated order. “This quarantine restriction shall not apply to public health, public safety or health care workers.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the American Civil Liberties Union had publicly criticized Rhode Island authorities for stopping cars with New York license plates and going door to door searching for New York travelers in a campaign to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
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Cuomo, who had argued Rhode Island’s actions violated the Constitution and vowed to sue the state, on Sunday thanked Raimondo for reversing the policy of stopping New York cars as they travel through Rhode Island.
“We thank them for their cooperation,” he said.
Steven Brown, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, said Monday that Rhode Island’s policy was still “deeply troubling.”
“The ACLU remains very concerned about the enormous breadth of the Governor’s latest directive,” he said in a statement. “A two-week quarantine solely for the ‘offense’ of coming from out of state, and with no opportunity to contest this demand, is deeply troubling.”
Brown added that “targeting out-of-staters like this can only promote a divisive ‘us vs. them’ mentality that encourages vilification of others.”
Rhode Island joins other states in targeting “outsiders” over coronavirus
Resident of New York, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, have been the target of a number of efforts to restrict interstate travel. The state accounts for almost half of the country’s 141,883 cases and more than a third of its 2,477 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
In an executive order on Tuesday Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis directed anybody traveling to the state from an “area with substantial community spread” to isolate or quarantine for two weeks. DeSantis singled out New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as such areas.
“Florida is experiencing an increase in individuals fleeing to Florida from states where ‘shelter-in-place’ orders are being implemented, including from the New York Tri-State Area,” DeSantis said in the order.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday restricted vehicle traffic from Louisiana. He has also mandated two-week quarantines for travelers from Louisiana, as well as from New York and several other states hit hard by the coronavirus.
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The Trump administration on Saturday issued a travel advisory warning for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised the states’ residents against non-essential domestic travel for 14 days. It said the warning did not apply to employees of “critical infrastructure industries” including trucking, public health and financial services.
President Donald Trump had mooted the idea of imposing a travel ban on the states but backed off following protests from governors, including Andrew Cuomo of New York. Health efforts also advised the president against the move, officials told Reuters.
The lockdown continues
Trump on Sunday extended his national stay-at-home guidelines until the end of April. He dropped a plan to get the economy up and running by mid-April after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said as many as 200,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus outbreak.
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the spreading coronavirus, has reached 2,513, with more than 143,000 people having tested positive for the disease, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking website. Globally, nearly 738,000 people have been infected and more than 35,000 have died.