Trump floated the idea of a quarantine as early as Saturday for a short time to stop the spread of coronavirus from reaching states with fewer infections
By Associated Press
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday he was considering a quarantine plan that would affect residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Trump said that he had spoken with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, among others, and that “a lot of the states that are infected but don’t have a big problem, they’ve asked me if I’ll look at it so we’re going to look at it.”
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., who has criticized the federal government’s response as his state became the country’s virus epicenter, said the issue had not come up in a conversation he had with Trump earlier Saturday. “I don’t even know what that means,” he said at a briefing in New York. ” I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. … I don’t like the sound of it.”
The federal government is empowered under the law to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it’s not clear that means Trump can order state residents to stay put.
But before Trump spoke in Norfolk, Virginia, as a U.S. Navy medical ship left for New York City to help with pandemic response there, he tweeted: “I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.”
Trump said the idea of isolating many in the trio of Democratic strongholds in the Northeast was pushed by DeSantis, one of the president’s most outspoken supporters. It comes a day after Trump made clear he wanted governors to be grateful when asking for federal support for the pandemic.
Trump said people “go to Florida and an a lot of people don’t want that. So we’ll see what happens.”
In Norfolk, the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, had been undergoing planned maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city. It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles to preform similar duty on the West Coast.
The president said he was making the 140-mile trip to Naval Station Norfolk to recognize the work of sailors and medical professionals who worked to get the ship out of maintenance more than a week ahead of schedule.
“I think it’s a good thing when I go over there and I say ‘thank you,'” Trump told reporters Friday. He added he wanted to make the trip to show “spirit for the country.”
It marks Trump’s first trip outside Washington since March 9 and only his second outside the gates of the White House since a March 19 trip to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
It comes a day after the president took a round of steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
To that end, Trump announced that he would be using the powers granted to him under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators.