HARTFORD, CT—The governors of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey will reevaluate a regional travel advisory list, which calls for travellers from states with high COVID-19 infection rates to quarantine or potentially face fines, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.
The list was created back in June by Lamont and the other tai-state area governors. It requires that travellers arriving from highly infected states quarantine for 14 days or face a $500 fine. Any state with a seven-day average positivity rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents is added to the list which is updated weekly.
Although there were initially nine states that met that criteria, the list has fluctuated over time. As of Tuesday, there were 38 states requiring quarantine including Rhode Island. While the rest of our neighboring states are considered clear this week, Lamont said New York and New Jersey were both “creeping up” toward the threshold. Connecticut also has seen an uptick in cases recently, putting it uncomfortably close to its own travel advisory. The state currently has a positivity rate of more than 8 per 100,000 residents, the governor’s office said.
“It would be a little ironic if we were on our own quarantine list,” Lamont said. Reevaluating the list makes sense, he said. “Look, we’re talking about three quarters of the states out there.”
“It’s getting a little complicated—who’s in and who’s out, week in and week out.”
The governor said he hoped to discuss the matter with the governors of New York and New Jersey and have some clarity for travelers on the “rules of the road” within a week.
Generally, the state’s coronavirus numbers were looking better Thursday than the previous two days. The new infection rate dropped to 1.3% after spending two days above 2%. Three more residents were hospitalized for the virus, bringing the state total up to 191. There were three additional deaths.
There were problems on a more localized level, however. Eleven of 159 towns were now in the “red zone,” having seen 15 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. For these communities, the governor recommended that local officials postpone indoor activities and consider remote learning for schools. Town officials also have discretion under a recently signed executive order to increase restrictions on the gathering limits at restaurants and businesses from 75% to 50% capacity.
“I’m told that Windham is interested in rolling back, I’m told that Norwich and New London may want to pause before they roll back to Phase 2. So they’re exercising their discretion,” he said.
Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford cautioned residents to exercise caution even when surrounded by people close to them. Transmission of the virus has largely occurred in “settings that people might consider to be benign because they’re small and they’re with people they know,” she said.
Thursday night also marked the first meeting of an advisory group created by Lamont to guide Connecticut’s distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available. The group is co-chaired by Gifford and Dr. Reginald Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England. Other members include representatives of disciplines like healthcare, academia, government, business, labor and clergy.
Lamont said he expected that a vaccine would become available sometime in the first half of next year. The governor said he expected the vaccine to be rolled out in a couple phases and highlighted some of the priorities he expects the group to focus on.
“We’re thinking about the critical workforce, otherwise known as the essential workers. We want to make sure they’re vaccinated and feel safe being at work. And those high-risk individuals, those who are most vulnerable,” he said.