The epicenter of COVID-19 in this country is New York City, Long Island and Westchester County.
Those three locations, according to the latest numbers, account for more than 90 percent of the 37,258 confirmed cases in New York state. When two other downstate counties are added, Orange and Rockland, the percentage jumps to more than 96 of all confirmed statewide cases.
As such, officials in some upstate counties, where there are less people and the virus is not as prevalent or spreading as quickly, would just as soon as those living downstate abide by the strict stay at home orders and not venture north to escape the pandemic
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to mandate anyone travelling from New York City, Long Island or Westchester County to his county to quarantine for 14 days. There are 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rensselaer County.
“The 14-day quarantine I am requesting (demanding) for anyone travelling from Westchester and south, meaning NYC, Long Island, ect, to Rensselaer Co. Should also be enacted in every other county upstate as well to protect them and #stopthespread,” wrote McLaughlin on social media.
The Saratoga County Health Department is asking visitors from “New York City and the greater metropolitan area to self-isolate for 14 days on their arrival to our county.” There are 64 cases in Saratoga County.
During the isolation period, officials in those two counties say, people should see symptoms of the disease — a fever, cough and shortness of breath — are present.
In Washington County, where there are four cases, officials are urging those with second homes and weekend visitors to stay away.
In Essex County, home to the storied Adirondack High Peaks, officials are asking hikers and other visitors to stay away. The county has a fulltime population of about 38,000, which explodes during the summer months as hikers, kayakers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the mountains.
“Essex County has four confirmed cases, none of which originated from within the county. However, a number of exposures will increase with the movement of non-residents into our area from other parts of the state and country, which will result in an inordinate strain upon the resources of public health, first responders, health care providers, our hospitals and other government personnel,” according to a joint statement by the Essex County Board of Supervisors. “We have few hospitals and those that we do have are not capable of handling an increased number of patients. Additional needs presented with the increased presence of out-of- county persons at our hospitals will tax our medical care system beyond its capacity.”
A number of social media groups focused on hiking and urging members to “hike local” and The 46Rs are urging potential members to put off ambitions of climbing all 46 high peaks until the pandemic subsides.
Warren County Public Health Director Ginelle Jones “asks that those who have come from the New York City metro area, where COVID cases have been far more prevalent, to follow recent federal guidance and self-isolate for at least 14 days after leaving the metro area. That includes New Jersey, Westchester and Rockland counties and Long Island,” according to a press release issued Thursday.
The counties did have the authority to mandate two-week quarantines but by executive order, Cuomo took that power away during the pandemic and now they must be implement by the state Department of Health.
A two-week quarantine was initiated in Florida and Alaska for anyone flying into those state from New York, and Hawaii is asking everyone to stay away for at least 30 days.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, though, said a two-week quarantine would be impossible to enforce for visitors coming into the county, where there were 166 confirmed cases as of Thursday.
“The governor is doing what he thinks is best for New York state, he went from 50 percent to 75 percent to 100 percent non-essential employees, and basically asking New Yorkers to be good New Yorkers and that is what we are doing,” McCoy said. “It is impossible for us to stop people from coming in at this point in time, and it would be impossible to enforce. We can request it, and that is why we are asking everyone in Albany County and everyone in the Capital District, to just stay home for two weeks.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he does not have a travel ban on his agenda.
“The counties can come up with whatever suggestions they want,” he said during his daily briefing on Thursday.
As for moving patients upstate should the downstate hospitals run out of room, he said it is a last resort.
“In New York City there is one hospital at 125 percent capacity and we can distribute patients within that hospital system,” he said. “We will look at regional distribution once you get past everything you can do in that area. I am not eager to distribute patients from downstate to upstate. That is a last resort.”
There are 21,393 confirmed cases in New York City, 5,944 in Westchester County and nearly 6,700 on Long Island. Rockland County has 1,197 and there are 751 in Orange County as of Thursday. There are 75,233 confirmed cases in the U.S.