FL Expands Coronavirus Order Targeting NY, NJ, CT Travelers

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The governor of Florida expanded his 14-day, self-quarantine order aimed at people fleeing three Northeast state’s coronavirus lockdowns to now include travelers who arrived in the Sunshine State up to three weeks ago.

Speaking on the first day of his order requiring all incoming air passengers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-quarantine, Gov. Ron DeSantis noted the virus has likely been circulating in the New York area for three or four weeks. The order to report and self-quarantine to some extent relies on travelers to answer honestly and follow the rules.

“The problem for Florida is we have a lot of interaction back and forth between the New York City area and the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “So you had people probably, unwittingly at the time, be there within the last couple of weeks and then come to Florida.”

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Under the governor’s expanded order, which was released Tuesday night, people who traveled from the New York City area to Florida — at any time during the last three weeks — must self-isolate and report the close contacts they’ve had in the state of Florida.

“We think that that’s important because you may have had someone who got back 10 days ago,” the governor said. “Maybe they’ve not even shown symptoms but they could be infected. If they are working with folks in Florida, or interacting with them in Florida, that is a way that this virus can spread.”

Related: FL Orders NY, NJ, CT Travelers To Self-Quarantine For Coronavirus

As of the morning of March 24, New York city official said 14,776 people have tested positive for the virus in NYC and 131 people have died.

Queens had the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among the five boroughs as of Tuesday morning, with Brooklyn coming in a close second. There were 4,237 coronavirus cases in Queens, compared to 4,237 in Brooklyn and less than 3,000 in each of the other boroughs, city officials said Tuesday.

The Florida governor’s expanded order requires travelers “to inform any individual in Florida with whom they have had direct physical contact in the past 21 days that they traveled from an area with substantial community spread.”

Violations will be treated as second-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. The document directs all state, county and local law enforcement officials to enforce the order.

A woman told Patch her sister was encouraged to take an indirect route from New Jersey to Naples after the governor’s order was issued.

“Her reservations were with JetBlue,” the woman said. “They offered to fly her to Boston and then from there she could land in Fort Myers.”

DeSantis issued his initial order Monday night and dispatched the Florida National Guard to meet some New York flights by Tuesday at larger airports in South Florida.

“We had the Florida National Guard in place at a number of our airports like Miami International and Fort Lauderdale,” the governor said. “When the individuals come in, they are asked to provide information to the guardsmen. They receive the information about what they need to do in order to self-isolate. They have contact information on who to contact should they be symptomatic.”

DeSantis said he planned to expand the National Guard presence into some other airports in Florida.

“What we’ll do is we’ll take that information and we’ll share it with some of the local folks so that they can make sure that they are keeping an eye on folks who very well may be infected,” the governor said.

DeSantis said it is unfair that some New Yorkers are coming to Florida to avoid a lockdown.

“All over the country people are kind of told to stay in their home, and they’re following the rules,” the governor explained. “Yet, you have folks now coming from the hottest of the hot zones filtering out into the United States. We’re doing something about that in Florida.”

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