New York area to quarantine visitors from high virus regions

New York and its neighbouring states plan to impose a two-week quarantine on visitors from states with elevated Covid-19 infection rates, a reflection of the sudden regional shift in the US’s coronavirus outbreak.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced the move on Wednesday, after several states across the US south and west posted record one-day increases in new cases.

On Wednesday, Florida reported a record 5,499 new cases over the preceding 24 hours. That disclosure came a day after California and Texas each reported record one-day increases of more than 5,000 cases.

Texas also reported on Tuesday that it has more coronavirus patients in hospital than at any point during the pandemic, and California said it had 5,065, the highest total since mid-April — up 15 per cent from a month ago.

Georgia (1,056), North Carolina (915), South Carolina (824), Alabama (680), Tennessee (446) and Arizona (248) on Tuesday all reported their highest number of current hospitalisations since the start of the outbreak.

The sharp rise in cases in the US south and west sent jitters through Wall Street on Wednesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 falling nearly 3 per cent in afternoon trading.

Covid-19 cases continue to surge in the south and west US. Seven-day rolling average of new cases, by number of days since 10 average cases first recorded

The outbreaks have begun to feed into economic forecasts, with Charles Evans, head of the Chicago Federal Reserve, warning that early reopenings by some states in May could force renewed lockdowns.

“I can’t speak to others’ assumptions, but crucially, my forecast assumes growth is held back by the response to intermittent localised outbreaks — which might be made worse by the faster-than-expected reopenings,” Mr Evans said in remarks to the Corridor Business Journal Mid-Year Economic Review.

New York and New Jersey had been the hardest-hit states in the US and have maintained strict lockdown policies until just last week. As a result, both have seen sharp drop-offs in hospitalisations and deaths. Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, said on Wednesday the state recorded 17 fatalities over the preceding 24 hours, near record lows.

Those totals are a significant reversal from when the Empire State was the epicentre of the US outbreak; it has recorded almost 390,000 cases — or 16.7 per cent of the nation’s total.

Mr Cuomo’s self-quarantine order will apply to travellers from states with infections equal to 10 per cent of their population, or 10 per 100,000 people, on a seven-day rolling average. He announced it during a press conference with his Connecticut and New Jersey counterparts.

As of Wednesday, that list would include nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. The quarantine will take effect on Thursday.

Mr Cuomo said anyone who breaks quarantine could be fined, and the order applies to residents returning home from affected states. In the past, several states required 14-day quarantines for travellers coming from New York in an effort to keep a lid on infections. A few states have asked all travellers to self-quarantine.

Additional reporting by Mamta Badkar in New York