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Trump says he is considering a quarantine of the New York metro area

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Posted at 11:37 AM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 14:33:32-04

President Trump said Saturday that he is considering declaring an "enforceable" quarantine affecting some residents of the New York metropolitan area, possibly including New Jersey and Connecticut. He called the region a "hot spot" of the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the country.

"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," Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon.

Speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had spoken to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about the pandemic. Mr. Trump said DeSantis, a Republican, told the president that he wanted to stop the flow of New Yorkers who may be infected with the new COVID-19 virus into the state.

"We'd like to see New York quarantined because it's a hotspot — New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I'm thinking about that right now," Mr. Trump said. "We might not have to do it but there's a possibility that sometime today we'll do a quarantine — short-term two weeks for New York, probably New Jersey and parts of Connecticut."

Mr. Trump also said "I'll speak to the governor about it later."

Mr. Trump reiterated in his remarks before the send off of the USNS Comfort that he was considering a quarantine of the area. The Comfort is a naval hospital boat which is carrying over 1,000 beds and 1,200 medical personnel to New York City.

"I am now considering, and will make a decision very quickly, very shortly, a quarantine, because it's such a hot area," Mr. Trump said. "We'll be announcing that one way or another fairly soon."

Mr. Trump also said that the quarantine would not affect truck drivers passing through the region, or trade in anyway.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters shortly afterward on Saturday that he had not spoken to the president about quarantining the metro region. Cuomo also said he didn't know what an enforceable quarantine means, but "I don't even like the sound of it."

"I don't even know what that means. I don't know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don't know what you'd be accomplishing," Cuomo said.

The governor added that there were no geographical constraints when the state required people in the city of New Rochelle to stay home.

"So we never set any geographic constraints, right? Mandatory quarantine is a scary concept, because it sounds like you're saying to people can't leave this district. We never did that," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said that he spoke with Mr. Trump Saturday morning about four temporary hospital sites in New York City. Cuomo said there have been 728 deaths in New York, an increase of over 200 from the previous day. There are over 50,000 cases of coronavirus in New York alone, with New Jersey following with 8,825 cases.