Cuomo announces statewide rapid testing

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shown here in this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, provided by the governor's office, announced Friday that rapid result testing will now be available in ever county across New York. 

ALBANY — New York may have to consider changes to its quarantine rules for out-of-state travelers now that two of its closest neighbors, Connecticut and New Jersey, are on the brink of getting added to the list of places subject to the restrictions.

The three states announced earlier this year that they would jointly require people traveling from states with higher rates of transmission to isolate themselves for 14 days after their arrival.

About three dozen states are now on New York's must-quarantine list. Both Connecticut and New Jersey were poised to join them based on the current threshold of targeting states averaging 10 or more new cases per day, per 100,000 residents, over a 7-day period.

The latest data shows Connecticut and New Jersey hit that threshold Monday, with 11.2 new cases per 100,000 residents and 10.3 respectively. Massachusetts is at 9.9 cases per 100,000 residents, while New York is at seven per 100,000, twice what it was at the end of August.

“It's a problem,” Cuomo said at a news conference Monday.

But he said travel restrictions might be unenforceable among the three states given so much cross-border commuting to work or shop and worries about disrupting the economy.

“So, it’s complicated and we’re working with them, but we don’t have any final conclusion yet but for a practical matters, you can’t do border control with New Jersey and Connecticut," he said.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters Monday he's talking with New Jersey and New York about weakening the rules, though said no date has been set for any change.

Right now, states can also land on the quarantine list if 10% of tests came up positive on average over the past week.

Lamont said under a tweaked advisory, states would face quarantine restrictions if they have at least a 5% positivity rate and hit the existing threshold for new cases. He estimated that'd apply to 33 states instead of over 40 and be “more manageable.”

When asked what would happen if Connecticut meets a weakened standard, Lamont echoed Cuomo and said it'd be hard to restrict travel to and from New York. “Frankly, we’re one region,” he said.

Infections are also on the rise in Pennsylvania, including in northern communities bordering New York’s Southern Tier. New York is opening rapid testing sites in the region, where infections and hospitalizations have seen an uptick.

Cuomo spokesman Peter Ajemian said Lamont was speaking for Connecticut but said New York is reviewing its metrics “and should have more info tomorrow.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he hasn’t spoken directly with Cuomo on the advisory.

“My advice is not to travel, frankly,” the Democrat said.

HOT SPOTS

Cuomo said his administration is working with local officials on possible adjustments to his order designating parts of New York City and suburban communities as hot spots where schools and nonessential businesses are closed.

The latest data suggests that efforts to rein in COVID-19 outbreaks in so-called “red zones” are working, Cuomo said.

By Wednesday the state may be able to adjust both the list of places subject to the restrictions and which metrics hot spots would have to hit to reopen.

“As discrete areas get better, you can rewrite the size of the zones,” Cuomo said.

Red zones accounted for one in 10 of the state's new coronavirus cases Sunday, down from about one in 5 in late September.

Still, there are signs of elevated infection in parts of Brooklyn, Rockland County and Orange County, officials said.

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