White House tells anyone who has left NYC that they should self quarantine

Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump, left, listens during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

White House officials Tuesday urged anyone leaving the New York City metropolitan area to self-isolate and monitor themselves carefully for 14 days as President Donald Trump called the region a “hot spot” for coronavirus cases.

“For anyone in the New York metropolitan area who has traveled, our task force is encouraging you to monitor your temperature, be sensitive to symptoms,” Vice President Mike Pence, chair of the administration’s coronavirus task force, said during a White House press briefing. “And we are asking anyone who has traveled out of the New York City metropolitan area to anywhere else in the country to self isolate for 14 days.”

Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, and Anthony Fauci, another task force member and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the precaution was necessary given the high rate of infections in the nation’s most populous city. 

Birx said that the 14 days should start based on the time that the individual left New York. She said that cases were already springing up in Long Island suggesting that infected individuals had left the city. 

Cornavirus cases have been doubling approximately every three days in New York and have surpassed 25,000, with more than 3,000 people needing to be hospitalized, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state projects it could need as many as 140,000 hospital beds within two to three weeks. The problem is concentrated in New York City, whose 8.4 million inhabitants make it the densest major city in the country, according to government statistics

“It’s a very serious situation and they have suffered terribly through no fault of their own, but what we are seeing now is that understandably people want to get out of New York,” Fauci said at Tuesday’s briefing. “They’re going to Florida. They’re going to Long Island. They’re going to different places.”

“About one per 1000 of these individuals are infected,” Fauci said, calling the statistics “disturbing.”

“That’s about eight to 10 times more than in other areas, which means when they go to another place, for their own safety, they’ve got to be careful, monitor themselves,” Fauci said. “If they get sick, bring it to the attention of a physician, get tested. Also, the idea of self-isolating for two weeks will be very important.”

Cuomo, who has tangled with Trump over his handling of the crisis, lashed out at those in the federal government during an address earlier Tuesday. He said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would send the state 400 ventilators.

“Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators. You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said. 

The governor said that the situation in New York was likely to be replicated in other states in the coming weeks.

“New York is the canary in the coal mine,” Cuomo said. “New York is going first.”

Correction: This story was updated to correctly attribute a quote to Vice President Mike Pence.

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