PRESIDENT Donald Trump sought to keep the public safe when he said he was considering a mandatory quarantine for the New York City metro area, a key member of his coronavirus task force has said.
Dr Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the task force, appeared on on Fox News with a stark coronavirus warning, declaring: "We don't think any city will be spared."
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Although the president later halted plans for a quarantine, opting for a travel advisory instead, his remarks helped underscore the urgency of the problem in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Birx said.
She told Fox News: "I think President Trump wanted all of America to know where the virus is and where it is expanding rapidly and really felt like everybody had to be aware and have a travel advisory.
"I've been talking to the governors. It was clear the governors felt together that they could actually keep their people safe and at home, like they all have asked their people to shelter in place and keep themselves safe."
I think President Trump wanted all of America to know where the virus is and where it is expanding rapidly and really felt like everybody had to be aware and have a travel advisory
Birx added that Trump's mention of a possible quarantine was really just a way to let people know the area had a significant amount of the cases.
"The president wanted everyone to know where this virus is so that people would be aware if they were gonna travel to that area, that that area had a very significant amount of COVID-19 or the coronavirus," Birx said.
"And so it's really to make Americans aware about traveling to New York, but also make it clear to the people who are in that area to protect them selves following the guidelines, to really stay home and really hunker down, stay at home and really follow the washing of your hands and not touching your face."
On Saturday, Donald Trump pulled back from a plan to quarantine New York, New Jersey and Connecticut hours after NY Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted the plan as "illegal" and a "declaration of war."
Cuomo told CNN on Saturday: "If you start walling off areas all across the country it would just be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American, anti-social."
The Governor continued: "This is a civil war kind of discussion.
"I don't believe that any administration could be serious about physical lockdowns of states.
"It makes absolutely no sense and I don't think any serious governmental personality or professional would support it."
He said such a move would amount to a “federal declaration of war.”
Trump responded late Saturday saying a quarantine will "not be necessary."
The President made the announcement on Twitter, saying: "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 @CDCgov to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary. Full details will be released by CDC tonight. Thank you!"
The backlash came after Trump said he was mulling a 14-day quarantine for the tri-state area, as the number of cases in the northeast continues to grow.
"If you are from the New York metropolitan area, and you travel elsewhere, we need you to self-quarantine for 14 days to help us contain the spread of the virus," he said, speaking in front of the USNS Comfort hospital ship.
The U.S. Navy ship, equipped with 1,000 beds, will depart Virginia for New York to be used for coronavirus patients.
Trump continued: "I am now considering and will make a decision very quickly, very shortly, a quarantine because it's such a hot area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut."
"We'll be announcing that one way or the other fairly soon. "
The president said a quarantine would "not apply to people such as truckers from outside the New York area who are making deliveries or simply transiting through," and added "it won't affect trade in any way.
Earlier Saturday outside the White House, Trump revealed the news about a possible quarantine.
"We’d 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," he said.
"I’m thinking about that right now. 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 and parts of Connecticut.”
Trump said he is considering implementing "enforceable" travel restrictions around the region.
“They’re having problems down in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down. We don’t want that,” Trump said.
“I’d rather not do it, but we might need it,” he added, noting he would not close the New York City Subway.
Trump said he spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the idea and might make a decision later Saturday.
Last Monday, DeSantis ordered any of the state's residents who had traveled to New York to self-isolate for 14 days.
But Cuomo, at his own press conference on Saturday, said he spoke to Trump “about the ship coming up and the four sites," and said: “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.”
New Jersey. Gov Phil Murphy also said that while speaking with Trump recently, the idea of a quarantine wasn't discussed.
More than 100,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., and New York, which has been partially locked down, is the epicenter of the country's outbreak.
In New York, at least 52,318 positive cases of the virus and 728 deaths have been reported.
New York City alone has reported 29,766 cases and at least 450 deaths.
The state of New Jersey has reported the second-highest number with 8,825 cases of coronavirus and 108 deaths, while Connecticut has reported 1,291 with 27 deaths.
Cuomo said on Saturday New York state most likely won't see the coronavirus peak for another 14 to 21 days.
The governor said that he didn't discuss an "enforceable quarantine" with Trump.
“I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable," Cuomo said.
"And from a medical point of view I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. But I can tell you I don’t even like the sound of it. Not even understanding what it is, I don’t even like the sound of it.”
“Mandatory quarantine is a scary concept because it sounds like you’re saying to people: ‘You can’t leave this district," Cuomo said.
A quarantine of the tri-state area would be a notable decision, considering many parts of the region are already following locally-ordered lockdowns.
Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools and libraries, among many other places, have been ordered to shut down to stop the spread of the virus.
Trump recently said he hopes to re-open the country by April 12 to try to strengthen the economy — despite the virus' impact.
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