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Lamont, Cuomo, Murphy ask visitors from COVID-19 hot spots to self-quarantine for 14 days

Gov. Ned Lamont and his counterparts in New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from areas with high COVID-19 infection rates to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to their states.

The governors announced the “joint travel advisory” during a virtual news conference Wednesday, saying the tri-state region was hit hard early in the coronavirus pandemic, and while several months later they have the outbreak under control, that is not the case in other areas of the country.

The region is “not an island,” Lamont said, “and as we look around at the rest of the country, we’re seeing not just spikes but real community spread.”

Lamont and Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey said they will use two metrics to determine the travelers who will be asked to self-quarantine: those from states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or states with an average positive test rate over a seven-day period that exceeds 10%.

The quarantine takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the quarantine would apply to travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Utah, Texas and Washington.

Officials from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey will work together to compile a list of states subject to the quarantine, which will be published weekly. Signs at airports, train stations and other transportation hubs will notify travelers of the quarantine. Lamont said the hotel industry and travel agents in Connecticut, and the vacation rental site AirBnB also will help notify travelers. He said he is considering whether to allow travelers to show proof of a recent negative test for COVID-19, as Maine is doing, as an alternative to the two-week quarantine.

“We want to keep going forward safely," he said. "Nothing would be worse for our confidence, economy and health than a relapse.”

Deidre Gifford, acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said the travel advisory is "another tool in our tool belt to help us really prevent a second wave (of infections)."

Connecticut will not enforce the quarantine to start but that could change, Lamont said. “Right now, it’s a voluntary quarantine. If we find it’s not working, we might consider stricter measures for enforcement.”

Asked whether he thought the travel advisory would affect Connecticut’s tourism industry, Lamont said the state currently is focusing its marketing on neighboring states like New York and Rhode Island, which have low infection rates, “a safe way to invite people to Connecticut.”

Connecticut reported Wednesday evening that it has had 45,913 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 so far, an increase of 14 from the day before, and has seen 4,287 associated deaths, an increase of 10 from the day before. The state said 400,391 tests have been reported so far.

Hospitalizations continued to decline, with 124 reported Wednesday, down by 14 from the day before.

New London County has had 1,159 confirmed, and 62 probable, COVID-19 cases overall on Wednesday, the same as the day before, according to the state. Confirmed and probable associated deaths also remained unchanged, at 76 and 26, respectively. Two patients were hospitalized with the disease in the county, one fewer than the day before.

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London reported late Wednesday afternoon that it was not treating a single COVID-19 inpatient for the first time in months. The hospital said its COVID-19 patient count peaked at 31 on May 6. Its affiliate, Westerly Hospital, which has been free of COVID-19 inpatients since the end of May, had a peak of eight inpatients on April 23. Backus Hospital in Norwich had one COVID-19 inpatient Wednesday.

Ginny Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Lodging Association, said the association supports the joint travel advisory. The association, too, is focusing its marketing on residents from neighboring states but also Connecticut residents, promoting the idea of a “staycation” and visiting parts of the state they haven’t been to before, she said.

Hotels in Connecticut reopened June 17, the start of phase 2 of reopening Connecticut's economy. The recent Father’s Day weekend, which brought nice weather to the state, proved busy for a number of shoreline communities, Kozlowski said.

The lodging association continues to encourage guests to wear masks, a requirement for employees. If visitors starts feeling sick after arriving in Connecticut, Kozlowski said they should call the association, which will refer them to a COVID-19 testing site.

Kozlowski said her message to travelers in Connecticut and beyond is this: “We are open for business and taking all appropriate safety precautions.”

Day Staff Writer Brian Hallenbeck contributed to this report.

j.bergman@theday.com





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