Rising infections make the principles for touring within the New York space tough

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Rich Collins is caught in the maze of coronavirus-related travel restrictions in the northeast. The Rhode …

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Rich Collins is caught in the maze of coronavirus-related travel restrictions in the northeast. The Rhode Island firefighter has custody of his 5-year-old daughter every other weekend in a deal with his ex-wife, but he can’t bring her home because she lives in New York state.

“The problem is, if I take my daughter to Rhode Island for her weekend, she won’t be able to go to school when she returns to New York – because Rhode Island is on New York’s quarantine list. It has to be quarantined for 14 days, “said Collins, 36, from Warwick.

“It has taken its toll,” he said. “There is no end in sight. I find it ironic that Rhode Island is the only New England state on New York’s list. It’s very frustrating. “

As coronavirus rates rise across the country, more states have qualified for the travel restrictions imposed by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, raising questions about the usefulness of these rules. Only seven states now have rates low enough to bypass the three states’ 14-day quarantine mandate.

Connecticut and New Jersey recently qualified for their own restrictions due to rising virus rates. This is a blow to the pride of a region that saw low virus counts in the summer after the country’s first major outbreak.

Public health officials say the restrictions continue to help limit the spread of the virus, but enforcement has been inconsistent. All three states rely on the honor system to allow travelers to self-isolate and fill out forms.

And the virus rate thresholds set by the three states are low compared to some others used across the country and around the world.

“When you impose these rules and you can’t satisfy them yourself, it sheds a bright light on how poorly these rules are designed,” said Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana campaign that studies pandemic data. “Are you changing the bar? Do you keep moving it so you are no longer part of it? Or do you drop it and say, “This doesn’t work”? “

Some research has shown that travel restrictions are effective. In a study of several European countries and New Zealand published in July by the New England Complex Systems Institute, researchers said they reduce the likelihood of “undermining disease containment by importing infected cases”.

When New York, New Jersey and Connecticut implemented their travel rules in late June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, blew up mostly Republican-led states where the virus reopened too early and made “politics” about COVID -19 .

It was turning the table over. In March, Cuomo criticized President Donald Trump for wanting to quarantine residents of three states because of high virus rates, saying it was a “federal declaration of war”. New York officials weren’t happy either when Florida and Texas put quarantine rules in place for people from the three states at the start of the pandemic.

As recommended by the three states, travelers must be quarantined for 14 days and submitted forms with personal information when arriving from states with an average of 10 or more new daily cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents over a seven day period, or from states last week, an average of 10% or more of the tests were positive.

The rules don’t apply in Connecticut if someone has evidence of a recent negative test and travelers staying for less than 24 hours do not need to be quarantined.

Connecticut and New Jersey passed the threshold of 10 new daily cases per 100,000 residents last week. However, the three states have agreed not to enforce their rules against each other. Each state has also worked out exceptions for other neighboring states that are eligible for the travel restrictions, citing economic and social ties and the ability for workers to commute across state borders.

New York keeps Pennsylvania and Massachusetts off its list. Connecticut excluded Rhode Island, but not Massachusetts or Pennsylvania. And New Jersey liberates Pennsylvania and Delaware. But officials in the three states warn of unnecessary interstate travel.

Travel rule enforcement has been in New Jersey, where Democrat Governor Phil Murphy has spoken out against fines, and New York, where Cuomo has warned against fines, but there was only one familiar quote, lax in New York City. The New York Health Department said it doesn’t collect fines for travel expense violations and referred questions to 62 health departments in the county.

Connecticut was stricter, fining between $ 100 and $ 2,000 for more than 50 people for failing to submit the required travel form. Most of them were Connecticut residents who had returned from states with high virus rates.

“You can’t physically get to everyone who crosses borders,” said Jan Louise Jones, professor of hospitality and tourism at the University of New Haven. “If it goes from state to state, it’s essentially impossible and you just have to hope that people are still socially distant and safe.”

The threshold for qualifying for the travel restrictions of the three states is low compared to other countries.

The Chicago quarantine mandate applies to states with 15 or more new cases per 100,000 population over a period of seven days. Spain considers areas high risk if the rate exceeds an average of 250 new cases per day and 100,000 cases over a two week period. Germany is requiring municipalities to reintroduce virus-related restrictions when the number of new daily cases exceeds 50 per 100,000.

“I haven’t found good evidence why 10 infections a day out of 100,000 people versus 20 as a bar is better or worse,” Jacobson said. “It’s pretty arbitrary.”

Collins, the firefighter, hopes that New York will soon exclude Rhode Island from his travelogue so his daughter can stay with him. New York is not on Rhode Island’s quarantine list, so he can visit her in New York without quarantining himself on his return.

“She has a loving home in Rhode Island … that she cannot come to. She has grandparents here she hasn’t seen, ”he said. “It’s not good for my family and me, and I don’t know what else to do.”

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Associate press writers Marina Villeneuve of Albany, New York, and Mike Catalini of Trenton, New Jersey contributed to this report.

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