State Steps Up Enforcement for Out-of-State Travelers at NY Airports

A requirement to provide information to New York State for all out-of-state travelers who arrive at any of the state’s airports goes into effect Tuesday in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced Monday that the state Department of Health issued an emergency health order that will enforce quarantine restrictions for travelers coming from states where the number of cases has been spiking.

All travelers must hand in a completed form when they disembark an aircraft. The forms will be provided by the airlines when passengers are seated, and enforcement teams will be collecting the forms when travelers arrive in New York. The requirement includes travelers landing at Westchester County Airport.

A $2,000 fine would be levied against anyone who fails to complete the form. If a traveler leaves the airport without providing the information, they will also be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“We can’t be in a situation where we have people coming in from other states in the country bringing the virus again,” Cuomo said.

The governor said that New York has worked hard to maintain a statewide infection rate of close to 1 percent for more than a month, even after starting the reopening process in May. About three weeks ago, Cuomo jointly announced with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont the three states would quarantine travelers for 14 days who are from states where positive COVID-19 cases on a seven-day rolling average exceed 10 percent, or if the positive cases exceed 10 per 100,000 residents.

There are 19 states that currently meet the criteria for required quarantine. In all, 39 states are seeing increases in cases as of Monday, Cuomo said.

The requirement is the latest step that Cuomo is taking to avoid a relapse with spiking COVID-19 cases. He also took the opportunity to deliver blistering attacks on President Donald Trump, calling it “gross negligence” for his administration’s failure to contain the virus in the rest of the nation after New York suffered in March and April.

“At the end of the day, science trumps politics; politics does not trump science,” Cuomo said. “You don’t defeat a virus with politics.”

“Trump’s COVID scandal makes what Nixon did at Watergate look innocent,” he later continued. “Nobody died in the Watergate scandal. Thousands of people are going to die in the COVID scandal.”

Cuomo said spread from elsewhere in the country is a continued threat to the state’s handling of the crisis. He also said that lack of compliance regarding the wearing of face masks and social distancing along with the inconsistent efforts of local governments to enforce is a threat as well.

While the statistics reported on Monday statewide and on a region-by-region basis continues to be strong, the governor warned that there should be no complacency.

“We have to remain compliant and the local governments have to do their job and enforce compliance,” Cuomo said.

On Sunday, the state reported a 1.08 percent infection rate from the 51,687 tests that were administered. COVID-19-related hospitalizations stood at 792, the lowest level since Mar. 18. There were 10 deaths on Sunday, which was followed by six and five on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The statewide infection rate has been below 2 percent every day since June 1.

In the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester and Putnam counties, the infection rate has been below 1 percent each day from July 4 through Sunday, July 12.

In Westchester, Sunday’s rate was 0.9 percent with 529 active cases. County Executive George Latimer said the active cases has been consistent for the past couple of weeks with small daily variations despite the cluster of 27 cases stemming from the June 20 Horace Greeley High School graduation and a post-ceremony party.

“We believe that spike has run its course,” Latimer said Monday.

None of the cases, 21 of which were from New Castle with the six others from neighboring municipalities, resulted in any hospitalizations, he said.

Putnam County, which has reduced its reporting to once a week, disclosed last Friday that there were 15 active cases and no COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Attendance Strong at Westchester Beaches, Pools

Latimer said that the public continues to make good use of the county’s summer recreation facilities despite the required use of face masks, social distancing and 50 percent capacity restrictions.

During last weekend, which was largely reduced to one day because of the threat of inclement weather on Saturday, Croton Point Park beach saw 676 visitors and Playland beach 2,086 people.

The four county pools – Saxon Woods, Sprain Brook, Tibbetts and Willson’s Woods – saw a combined attendance of more than 4,400 people.