Donald Trump 'considering New York quarantine' because of coronavirus outbreak

28 March 2020, 20:27

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

US President Donald Trump has said he is considering putting New York into quarantine for a "short period of time" because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The US leader told reporters outside the White House he would be willing to put the people of New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut into quarantine to prevent them from travelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Trump said it would be for a "short period of time if we do it at all" when addressing the press.

The president added that he had spoken with Florida governor Ron DeSantis and New York governor Andrew Cuomo about the possibility.

New York is currently the epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country, with the US now being the nation with the highest number of cases worldwide.

Read more: Global coronavirus cases pass 600,000 with over 28,000 dead

Mr Trump said the quarantine could be enforceable and it would stop millions of people travelling to and from other parts of the USA.

However, Governor Cuomo countered the president's claim, saying he did not talk with him about the idea.

"I don't even know what that means," Mr Cuomo said during 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."

It is unclear whether the federal government would have the power to impose such restrictions on individual states. The US constitution rules that states have the power and responsibility for maintaining both public order and safety.

Read more: Italy's coronavirus death toll surges past 10,000

Donald trump said he is considering a New York quarantine
Donald trump said he is considering a New York quarantine. Picture: PA
Mr Trump made a speech in Virginia in front of a US Navy warship
Mr Trump made a speech in Virginia in front of a US Navy warship. Picture: PA

On the other hand, the federal government does have the power to enforce measures that can help to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states. The grey area is whether the president can use those measures to tell state residents to stay put.

Mr Trump made the comments prior to travelling to Norfolk, Virginia, where a US Navy medical ship is set to depart for New York to help with the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the US President claimed the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's opening words in a phone call between the two were "we need ventilators".

Governor Cuomo said he was delaying the state's presidential primary from 28 April to 23 June, when the state plans to hold legislative congressional and local party primaries.

"I don't think it's wise to be bringing people to one location to vote," he said.

Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana and Kentucky have also postponed their presidential primaries.

President Trump also approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing additional money to help the state address the Covid-19 pandemic.

The declaration announced by the White House on Saturday follows a back-and-forth between Mr Trump and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has criticised the Trump administration for its slow response to the pandemic, saying "we cannot weather this alone".

The US surgeon general said on Friday that Detroit, a national "hot spot" for cases of the new coronavirus, will worsen next week.

More than 3,600 people in Michigan were confirmed to have Covid-19 on Friday.

At least 92 have died, most from the three counties in the Detroit area, according to state officials.