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The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a new travel advisory on June 24, 2020.

New York State Team

ALBANY, N.Y. – Travelers from eight states – including California – could be added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s quarantine order, which would push the total to 16 states representing nearly half the country’s population.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office intends to analyze each state’s COVID-19 data Monday night and Tuesday morning to determine which states will join the original eight subject to the travel order, which requires travelers from places with high infection rates to isolate for 14 days upon arrival in New York or the two neighboring states.

A data analysis by the USA TODAY Network – New York shows eight states are in line to be added to the list as of Sunday night:

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee

That would double the original list of states, which was unveiled last week: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s quarantine order could soon apply to 48% of the U.S. population, barring a drastic change in policy or infection rate

Cuomo’s office and the New York State Department of Health declined to confirm which states will be added.

“Like virtually all the metrics we use, it will be a rolling average,” said Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior adviser and spokesman. “Monday night into Tuesday, we’ll run the seven-day averages, and then we’ll know for sure.”

What determines which states are on the list?

There are two ways a state can make the list, both of which are measured on a rolling seven-day average:

  1. Having 10% of COVID-19 diagnostic tests come back positive.
  2. Having at least 10 daily positive tests for every 100,000 residents.

Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont laid out the quarantine order Wednesday. It took effect Thursday.

Cuomo said states could be added and removed from the order as their COVID-19 rates rise or fall.

“We will update daily what states are above that infection rate,” Cuomo said. 

Those updates haven’t been made on a daily basis.

There will be a weekly adjustment, the first of which will come after Monday’s data is in, according to state Department of Health spokeswoman Jill Montag. The New Jersey Department of Health’s website says it will update the list of affected states weekly on Mondays. 

Montag said New York pulls COVID-19 data from every state’s website and crosschecks it against the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-driven project led by The Atlantic that  tracks state-level coronavirus data and makes it available for download.

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Technical glitches spared two states at first

Using the COVID Tracking Project’s curated data, the USA TODAY Network calculated each state’s rolling seven-day average dating back to the early days of the outbreak in March.

State officials crafted the original list of eight states included in the quarantine order based on the seven-day period that ended June 21.

At the time, six other states – including California – had an average of nine to 10 positive daily cases per 100,000 residents, narrowly missing the criteria.

Louisiana and Mississippi probably should have been included in the original quarantine order. Because of technical glitches or corrections, they were left off.

On June 21, Louisiana’s rolling seven-day average was 9.7 positive cases per 100,000 residents. That calculation included zero new cases June 19, when the Louisiana Department of Health removed more than 1,600 duplicate positives, which made the state’s cumulative case total fall that day and threw off the seven-day average.

Now, Louisiana has 19.9 cases per 100,000 residents, fifth most in the country.

Mississippi showed 5.4 positive cases per 100,000 residents for the week that ended June 21. Technical issues prevented state officials from updating their daily case total for the four days prior.

When the five-day backlog of cases was added June 22, Mississippi’s number jumped to 11.9, according to the USA TODAY Network analysis. Since then, it has steadily increased to 25.2 as of Sunday, trailing only Arizona (42.2) and Florida (29.1).

More: New York had lowest single-day death toll since March 15

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California could be a consequential addition

Six other states have qualified for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s travel order since June 21.

Most consequential is California, the nation’s most-populous state with more than 39 million people.

The Golden State tipped over the 10-per-100,000-residents mark June 23, the day before the quarantine order was announced but after New York analyzed the data.

Since then, California has identified 4,200 to 7,200 new COVID-19 cases each day, bumping its per-100,000-resident total to 13.5 as of Sunday.

Should California be added to the quarantine order Tuesday, it would dramatically increase the directive’s reach. The state accounts for 12% of the U.S. population.

The second- and third-largest states, Texas and Florida, are included in the original quarantine order.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he had not been in contact with the three Eastern governors about the travel order.

“I am not here to judge the actions of other governors,” Newsom said at a news conference. “All I can say is humbly I submit as a governor, I recognize the responsibility and weight of decision-making and I respect their determinations based on their particular insight and their expertise.”

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New York turns the tables

New York had been the state hit hardest by COVID-19, which has killed more than 31,000 people in the state and infected more than 392,000.

In early April, New York had an average of more than 9,000 people test positive each day, which works out to nearly 50 per 100,000 residents.

New York dipped below the 10-per-100,000 mark May 21. As of Sunday, that number was down to 3.4, the 12th-lowest in the country. 

Travelers who break the quarantine order in New York face the threat of a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense and up to $10,000 if harm results. That includes New York residents who traveled to a hard-hit state and are returning to their home.

The fines are possible if the state or a local health department issues a quarantine order for an individual, which could happen if someone was caught willfully ignoring the state’s travel advisory.

Bill Hammond, director of health policy for the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank, questioned whether a quarantine order would have the desired impact.

“Once you get community spread, I’m not sure travel restrictions are going to be effective, especially given how hard they are to enforce,” Hammond said. 

Cuomo has faced repeated questions on how he plans to enforce the travel measure, particularly as it expands to include more states.

The governor suggested the state will rely on people to follow the order voluntarily, but “inspectors” will examine flight logs and randomly check in with those who come in from states with high infection rates.

“You fly in here from another state, we know what flight you came in on,” Cuomo said Friday on CNN. “And we’ll have inspectors who are randomly looking at the names on the list and calling to follow up to make sure you’re quarantining.”

Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.

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