The Trump administration official tasked with coordinating the response of the White House coronavirus task force says that ‘no city will be spared’ by the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx appeared on Fox News on Saturday evening to defend President Trump for considering a federally mandated quarantine for residents of the coronavirus ‘hotspots’ New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Birx said that Trump thought about a quarantine as a way of letting the nation know ‘where the virus is.’
The president late on Saturday backed down from the idea, saying that instead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue a stern travel advisory for those living in the tri-state area.
Several governors, including Andrew Cuomo of New York, strongly came out against a federally imposed quarantine.
‘I think Trump wanted the whole of America to know where the virus is and where it is expanding rapidly,’ said Birx.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said on Saturday that ‘no city will be spared’ by the pandemic
She said the president ‘really felt like everybody had to be aware and have a travel advisory.
‘In talking to the governors, it was clear that they felt they could keep their people safe and at home, like they had all asked their people to shelter in place.’
‘The president wanted everyone to know where this virus is,’ continued Birx, ‘so people would be aware if they’re going to travel to that area that that area had a very significant amount of COVID-19 or the coronavirus.’
Birx continued: ‘It’s really to make Americans aware about traveling to New York and also make it clear to the people in the area to protect themselves following the guidelines to really stay home and hunker down, stay at home and wash their hands and not touch their face.’
The physician told Judge Jeanine on Saturday that Americans should continue practicing social distancing while washing their hands frequently to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
‘I think people really don’t understand how transmittable it is,’ she said.
‘It is much more transmittable than flu. It is much more transmittable than a lot of the other coronaviruses that people have heard about like SARS…We are really asking people to follow these guidelines even if you don’t think there’s a virus, there it probably is.
‘We don’t think any city will be spared from this virus.’
When asked if she had advice for Americans, Birx said: ‘If I leave anything with your audience, it is follow the guideline.
‘Please, follow the guidelines.
‘Protect yourself, protect your family, but let’s unite together and protect America.’
Trump backs off NY quarantine and asks CDC to issue ‘strong travel advisory’ instead after Gov. Cuomo declared the threat a ‘federal declaration of war’
Trump has said he will not attempt to quarantine New York and instead order a travel advisory, after Cuomo said the proposal to the limit the spread of coronavirus would be tantamount to a ‘federal declaration of war.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the advisory late on Saturday, saying: ‘Due to extensive community transmission of COVID -19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.’
The advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, ‘including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply,’ the CDC said.
The agency said that the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will have ‘full discretion’ to implement the advisory.
On Saturday night, Trump backed down from his threat to impose a quarantine on the Tri-state area.
‘On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force, and upon consultation with the Governor’s of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the [CDC] to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government,’ Trump tweeted on Saturday from the White House.
‘A quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by CDC tonight. Thank you!’ he continued.
On Saturday night, confirmed cases of coronavirus hit 123,788 and deaths surpassed 2,100 nationwide, with 672 deaths in New York City alone.
The escalating death toll in the Big Apple has New Yorkers dying at a rate of one every nine minutes.
Trump had said earlier on Saturday that he was considering quarantining ‘heavily infected’ New York, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, in a desperate effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Within hours, Cuomo blasted the proposal in strong terms. ‘If you start walling off areas all across the country it would just be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American, anti-social,’ said Cuomo in an interview with CNN on Saturday evening.
‘This is a civil war kind of discussion,’ Cuomo said of the proposal. ‘I don’t believe that any administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of states.’
Cuomo said that it would probably be illegal to quarantine New York, as well as totally ineffective, given the rise of other virus hotspots in the country such as New Orleans.
‘It makes absolutely no sense and I don’t think any serious governmental personality or professional would support it,’ Cuomo said.
Trump’s earlier proposed quarantine would have restricted travel to and from the three states, which are some of the hardest-hit by the outbreak, as it emerged that 209 people died in New York state in the last 24 hours.
New York state now has at least 53,399 confirmed cases, nearly half the national total of more than 123,000.
In New York City alone, there are 30,765 confirmed cases, and there have been at least 672 deaths.
‘Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jersey maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I’m thinking about that right now,’ he said Saturday.
‘We might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine – short term – two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut.’
Trump said his proposed quarantine would be ‘short-term’ but that it would be ‘enforceable’.
The president dismissed the idea that he would need to deploy the National Guard to ensure residents comply with the quarantine rules.
Trump speaks in front of the US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, Saturday. He said he is considering quarantining New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey in a desperate effort to slow the spread of coronavirus
An elderly patient is wheeled into the emergency entrance to Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York on Saturday
A medical worker prepares to reenter a COVID-19 testing tent set up outside Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York on Saturday. The hospital is caring for a high number of coronavirus patients in the city, and New York leads the nation in cases
A man wears a face mask while he visits Times Square as rain falls on Saturday in New York City. Trump said on March 28, 2020 that he’s considering a short-term quarantine of New York state, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut
A map shows which parts of New York City have had the highest rates of positive test results for coronavirus
‘We’re not going to need that,’ he said.
‘We’re looking at it and will be making a decision. A lot of the states that are infected – they’ve asked me if I’d look at it so we’re going to look at it. Maybe for a short period of time,’ Trump said.
‘It would be for a short time’ for parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, he said.
However when asked if he would shut down the New York City subway he said: ‘No we wouldn’t do that.’
Cuomo said he had spoken with Trump earlier Saturday and the two had not discussed a possible quarantine. The governors of New Jersey and Connecticut also said that they had not spoken with Trump about a potential quarantine.
It was not clear whether Trump would be able to block road, air and sea travel out of a region that serves as the economic engine of the eastern United States, accounting for 10 percent of the population and 12 percent of GDP.
Some states have already imposed limits. New Yorkers arriving in Texas, Florida and Rhode Island face orders to self-isolate if they intend to stay.
The Rhode Island National Guard started going door to door on Saturday in coastal areas to inform any New Yorkers who may have come to the state that they must self-quarantine for 14 days.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo also expanded the mandatory self-quarantine to anyone visiting the state.
Raimondo also ordered residents to stay at home, with exceptions for getting food, medicines or going to the doctor, and ordered nonessential retail businesses to close Monday until April 13 to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A sign in Rhode Island instructs motorists with New York license plates to pull over at a checkpoint on I-95 over the border with Connecticut on Saturday. Rhode Island’s governor ordered the military-style checkpoints
A member of the Rhode Island National Guard Military Police directs a motorist with New York license plates at a checkpoint on I-95 near the border with Connecticut on Saturday. All New York motorists must register and self-quarantine
In Rhode Island on Saturday, drivers with New York license plates must stop and provide contact information and were told to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering the state
She also directed realtors and hotel operators to include new requirements that any out-of-state residents must quarantine for 14 days in their purchase agreements.
State Police set up a checkpoint on I-95 in Hope Valley on Friday where drivers with New York license plates must stop and provide contact information and were told to self-quarantine for two weeks.
If New Yorkers don’t comply, they face fines and jail time, Raimondo said, adding that that’s not the goal.
‘I want to be crystal clear about this: If you’re coming to Rhode Island from New York you are ordered into quarantine. The reason for that is because more than half of the cases of coronavirus in America are in New York,’ Raimondo said, adding that it’s not meant to be discriminatory.
The governors of Pennsylvania and West Virginia have also asked visiting New Yorkers to voluntarily self-quarantine.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu on Saturday asked all visitors to his state who don’t come for work reasons to voluntarily self-quarantine.
Trump said any New York-area lockdown would only apply to people leaving the region. It would not cover truckers making deliveries or driving through the area, he said.
US law gives the president the authority to restrict travel between states, legal experts said. But he would not be able to enlist local police to set up checkpoints along state lines, and it would be difficult to determine who would be allowed to get through, said Louisiana State University law professor Edward Richards.
‘The logistics of deciding who is an essential person or essential cargo could shut down the ability to transport essential personnel and supplies,’ he said.
Even if it were possible, a New York-area lockdown might have come too late for the rest of the country.
The number of coronavirus patients in California hospitals increased by more than one-third overnight, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
Officials in Louisiana, where Mardi Gras celebrations late last month in New Orleans fueled an outbreak, reported 17 additional deaths and 569 new cases on Saturday.
The disease has proven most fatal among the elderly, but Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Saturday that an infant had died in his state.