Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York is offering help to states like Texas and Arizona that are struggling with spiking COVID-19 infections, but is also talking with airport officials and federal border control officers on how best to enforce the travel advisory requiring travelers from states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.
During a conference call Friday, Cuomo said his chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, is reaching out to her counterparts in Texas, Arizona and Florida to see if the state can be of any assistance, like loaning ventilators or other medical equipment, or even National Guard soldiers.
“Our offer is open ended,” Cuomo said. “However we can help.”
New York was the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. during the spring, but it’s now at its lowest rate of infection since the pandemic began. Testing shows the rate of the virus in the state is at 1.3%, while 14 people died of the disease Thursday.
Cuomo noted many states helped New York when it was at its peak, and he wants to repay the favor.
At the same time, New York is continuing to require that travelers from states with high rates of infection quarantine for two weeks after they arrive. It’s a reversal from March and April when the state was the epicenter of the disease, and other states required that visitors from New York quarantine.
At that time, Cuomo questioned the legality of such measures, but he’s now talking to airport officials, and even federal customs agents, on how New York’s travel advisory can legally be enforced.
“We are talking to the airlines right now about our ability as a state to question people coming into our airports, gathering information from them, doing checks on them, temperature checks etc.,” Cuomo said. “What is our legal authority, and how cooperative would the airlines be? We’re in the middle of that now.”
The state is currently in litigation with customs and border patrol over the federal government’s move to ban New Yorkers form the trusted traveler program, due to a dispute over New York granting standard driver’s license applications to undocumented immigrants as part of the Green Light Law.
The governor’s comments Friday come as the White House coronavirus task force held its first public briefing in nearly two months. Cuomo said states that followed the guidance of the Trump administration, which advocated for faster reopening of the economy and fewer precautions, like mandatory mask wearing, are now faring poorly. States like New York, which relied on science and data during its shutdown and cautious reopening with strict social distancing, are now doing well and have low rates of infection.
Cuomo said the two “theories” were tested, and now the results are in.
“What are the results from testing of the theory in the laboratory of reality called America,” he said. “Let’s get past this silly political argument, who’s right, who’s wrong. Just took at the numbers.”
However, the governor warned that unless New Yorkers continue to follow safety protocol, the virus could come back.