HARTFORD, CT — State officials plan to ease the conditions of a travel advisory reducing the number of states which require travelers to quarantine when arriving in Connecticut, but leaving intact financial penalties for those who fail to follow the rules.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced the new conditions Monday during a press briefing on the state’s COVID-19 situation. Travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days if they arrive in Connecticut from another state with a seven day average of 10 or more positive cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 5%.
The administration expects the change to reduce the number of states on the quarantine list from an expected 40 states and territories to 33. Currently, reaching either milestone—10 cases per 100,000 residents or 10% positivity rate—lands Connecticut on the list. The state is “a little tiny bit over that 10 per 100,000 number,” Lamont said.
The governor said his office is working closely with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York City, New York state and New Jersey to arrive at a regional solution. Other states in the region are adopting similar metrics for their lists, Lamont said.
“We’re not going to be going on any of their quarantine list and we’re working together to come up with a metric which we think is enforceable and realistic,” he said. Aside from localized flare ups, the surrounding states have maintained similar infection rates. “We’re one region. I think you’re going to find it very complicated to say you can’t go into New York or New York can’t come out here.”
Although the conditions may be changing, the penalties for ignoring the rules have not. The governor said the potential $1,000 fines will stay. Anyone returning from an affected state must still complete a Travel Health Form, then either self quarantine for 14 days or test negative for the virus after returning.
“Yes, you will be fined if you do not follow—willfully disobey the protocols we’ve got there,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said 45 people have been fined for failure to obey the quarantine list so far. Most of them, he said, were Connecticut residents. Geballe said the state has not been tracking the issuance of other fines like those associated with residents refusing to wear masks in public or disobeying social gathering limits. Those penalties are being handled at the local level. Some local health officials did request training from the state on how to issue the tickets, he said. The training was conducted last week.
“So I think there continues to be a lot of interest across the state so we’re making sure that that tool in the toolbelt is available to ensure compliance with the public health requirements,” he said.
The rate of new infections has been 1.7% since Friday. There were 1,191 new cases and 12 more people died of complications associated with the virus. Eleven more people were hospitalized, bringing the total number of hospital patients with the coronavirus up to 195.
The governor urged residents to remain disciplined when it comes to taking precautions against the virus. But he said he sensed that some residents have changed their attitude as the pandemic has worn on.
“Now as we approach mid to late October and you see those numbers scooting up, we’ve gone from ‘We’re all in this together’ to ‘I’m going to sue you if you make me wear a mask.’ We’ve got to continue to maintain our discipline and get this right,” he said.
Lamont closed the press conference by defending Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who joined Lamont remotely for one of his COVID briefings back in August. Earlier Monday, President Donald Trump attacked Fauci on Twitter, claiming the doctor “seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope.”
“All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said ‘no masks & let China in,’” the president tweeted.
Lamont called the president’s attitude towards Fauci and the virus “really unfortunate.”
“He’s been a disaster,” Lamont said. “I think it’d be a disaster if we don’t listen to Dr. Fauci, we don’t look at these numbers, we don’t follow the safety precautions that we know they work. That’s how we’re going to get through this together and I hope that’s the attitude that we carry,” he said.