With more than half of the nation's 44,000 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the epicenter of the pandemic, the New York City metro area, people leaving from there are now being advised by the government to self-quarantine for 14 days wherever they go.
“We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force said at its daily news briefing on Tuesday night, March 24. “About 56 percent of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area and 60 percent of all the new cases are coming out of the metro New York area and 31 percent of the people succumbing to this disease."
It's the first time U.S. officials have recommended that individuals traveling domestically self-quarantine.
The White House did not list the specific counties covered but the traditional definition of the NYC metro area is the five boroughs, Long Island, and the lower and mid Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and Fairfield County.
“Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn't spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it's Florida, North Carolina, or out to Long Island,” Birx said.
"We have to deal with the New York City metro area as a high-risk area," said Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the task force. "For that reason, we're taking these steps and asking for the cooperation of the American people."
Population density has been the main reason for the spike in numbers in the metro area, and especially New York City itself, with the spread of the novel coronavirus especially dangerous in clusters of people.
The rate of infection in New York City is eight to 10 times higher than in other parts of the country.
“It’s a very serious situation," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a member of the task force who is himself a New York City native. "They've suffered terribly through no fault of their own."
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order saying people from New York and the tristate area who fly to Florida during the coronavirus pandemic will have to stay quarantined for two weeks after arriving there or they will be charged.
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