Cuomo: New York Quarantine Would Be ‘Federal Declaration Of War’


“I don’t think it is legal,” Cuomo told CNN.

Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

(Updated: 8:30 p.m. EST, March 28, 2020)

Topline: Following reports that President Trump was considering an “enforceable quarantine” of the tri-state area, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with CNN on Saturday night that such a tactic was of questionable legality and would amount to no less than a “federal declaration of war.”

  • “It would be chaos and mayhem,” Cuomo told CNN’s Ana Cabrera, when first asked about Trump’s proposed quarantine. “It’s totally opposite everything he’s been saying. I don’t think it is plausible. I don’t think it is legal.”
  • “A lockdown is what they did in Wuhan, China,” Cuomo said. “We’re not in China, and we’re not in Wuhan… I believe it would be illegal.”
  • “As a governor, I’m not going to close off my borders,” he added.
  • President Trump had said earlier on Saturday that his administration was considering an “enforceable quarantine” of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to combat the coronavirus, suggesting he’d discussed it with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—who immediately denied he had. 
  • “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine… I haven’t had those conversations, I don’t even know what that means,” Cuomo said when asked about the president’s remarks during his morning press conference.
  • During a speech later in the day given at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Trump further elaborated, saying “We’ll be announcing that one way or the other fairly soon. This does not apply to people such as truckers from outside the New York area who are making deliveries or simply transiting through, it won’t affect trade in any way.”
  • Following Cuomo’s comments, however, Trump tweeted late on Saturday night that he will not, in fact, be issuing a quarantine for the tristate area—just a “strong travel advisory.”

Crucial quote: “This would be a federal declaration of war on states,” Cuomo said, while also adding that he doubts that the President is looking to do that. “I’ve sued the federal government a number of times over the years. I do not believe it’s going to come to that on this,” he said.

Big number: 52,318. That’s the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York, amounting to almost half of the national total (113,000) so far. Almost 30,000 cases have been confirmed in New York City alone. The state has become by far and away the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., facing a much greater caseload than in the next hardest-hit states, like New Jersey (8,825), California (4,914) and Washington (3,770). Cuomo forecasted that New York’s apex of the pandemic is still 14 to 21 days away.

Key Background: In his press conference earlier on Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the federal government for making states compete with each other to buy medical supplies. Cuomo, who has repeatedly urged for wider implementation of the Defense Production Act to mobilize more resources, said, “you can see the prices going up, literally, during the course of a day.” Ventilators originally cost around $25,000 each, but because of increased competition among states all trying to outbid each other, prices have soared to around $45,000. “On purchasing, you can’t have a situation where 50 states are competing with each other to buy the same material—that is what is happening now,” the New York governor said.

Tangent: Despite being under strict stay-at-home orders, New York has become a target of other state administrations, like in Rhode Island where local authorities are pulling over cars with New York license plates in order to collect contact information and the National Guard are knocking on doors in coastal cities to see if they’re travelers from New York. Before leaving for Virginia, Trump echoed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticisms about New Yorkers traveling to Florida. The governor ordered fliers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-isolate for two weeks, though he also drew disapproval for refusing to enact a shelter-in place order and keeping beaches open throughout Spring Break.

Further reading: Cuomo Calls For National ‘Buying Consortium,’ Says He Hasn’t Discussed Quarantine With Trump

‘Failing,’ ‘Snake,’ ‘Tantrums’: Trump’s War With State Governors Rages On

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