CDC says no clear evidence coronavirus quarantines for travelers, like in New York, work

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There’s no clear evidence out-of-state quarantines like those imposed by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are effective in containing the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that travelers arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Florida, Texas and other states with spiking Covid-19 infection rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate. The idea is that the states can keep their transmission rates down by deterring nonresidents from traveling to the tri-state region.

“We worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down,” Cuomo said at a news conference with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. “We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they can literally bring the infection with them.”

But Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said Thursday that the agency does not have any data to support that those measures work.

“I don’t think we have any clear evidence right now,” he told reporters during a news briefing. “The individual states are making their individual decisions.”

“We don’t have any evidence-based data to support the public health value of that decision,” he added. 

The comment by Redfield came as the U.S. reported more new coronavirus cases on Wednesday than on any single day before, according to a tally by NBC News. As of Wednesday, cases are growing by 5% or more in 31 states across the country, including Florida, Arizona, Texas, Montana and Idaho, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise as well.

Meanwhile, New York state, the early hot spot, reported Thursday its lowest hospitalization rate since its outbreak started at less than 1,000 people hospitalized. 

Cuomo touted the milestone during an interview on CNN earlier in the day. 

“This is after three months of everyone working hard and doing the right thing and taking this seriously,” he said, criticizing other states for what he called “playing politics” earlier in the outbreak. 

Scientists say the virus can spread through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs or sneezes. According to the CDC’s website, quarantines can help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who has or may have a contagious disease.

To be sure, other leaders outside the tri-state region have imposed restrictions on incoming travel meant to curb the spread of the virus. For example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in March requiring people coming to Florida from the New York City region to self-quarantine for 14 days.

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