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Governors Say They'll Force Out-Of-State Visitors To Quarantine

People in coronavirus hotspots are being told not to travel to other parts of the country, for fear they'll bring the infection with them. Those who do so anyway might find themselves in a forced quarantine.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that he had authorized law enforcement officers to begin setting up checkpoints in the state's panhandle to screen people coming from the New Orleans area.

"There's a fear as New Orleans becomes more of a hotspot, that you could have an influx of people into the Florida panhandle from Louisiana," DeSantis said.

Earlier in the week, National Guardsmen at Florida airports began greeting people arriving on flights from the New York City area, telling them they have to isolate themselves from others for 14 days. That same message will be given at checkpoints to visitors arriving from Louisiana.

Rhode Island is taking similar steps. Gov. Gina Raimondo is ordering all people coming from New York state to quarantine for two weeks when they arrive in Rhode Island. State troopers will be pulling over cars, and National Guard members will be going door-to-door in coastal communities to help enforce the new rule.

"I understand this is an extreme measure," Raimondo said at a news conference Thursday. "In my judgement, this is the most prudent course of action."

The announcement raised eyebrows, with the state ACLU questioning its constitutionality. But University of Rhode Island Professor Jeffrey Bratberg, an infectious disease expert, said people should be concerned about New Yorkers spreading coronavirus.

Bratberg said people coming from the city should also consider the impact they could have on scarce health care resources in Rhode Island and try to stay in New York if they can.

Corey Williams and his family left Brooklyn for Warwick, R.I., because his infant daughter has a heart condition. "If there's going to be a fire," Williams said, "I don't want to be standing in a bunch of kindling."

But he says he understands the concerns. The family is nearing the end of their 14-day quarantine in a house owned by Williams' parents. He says he's only left the house once, for groceries.

Copyright 2020 The Public's Radio

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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