A person visiting New York who spoke with UncoverDC on the condition of anonymity, from now on referred to as "Jane", has provided paperwork and an account of an absolutely stunning experience they had after traveling to NY from one of the states that NY Governor Mario Cuomo had listed as “restricted” under a “travel advisory”. Jane took a long weekend trip that was planned and booked months ago. Jane told us “As soon as I stepped off the plane they veered everyone to a line and all of us were asked to complete a Traveler Health Form or be fined $2,000". Jane filled this form out reluctantly because the trip they had planned was a short 3 days to visit a friend.
The following day Jane received a phone call with the caller ID reading “NYS Tracer” from Schenectady. The Tracer representative started asking several personal questions. "Where are you? Did you go directly to the house?" Jane responded, "I am not going to answer that, I don’t know who you are and I can’t verify that you are from the New York State Health Department. I have a 4th Amendment right.” The Contact Tracer Representative shot back, "I don’t care about your 4th Amendment right, I need to call you every day and check in on you and stop by periodically". Jane responded, "No, that is an invasion of my privacy, you are not calling me every day", and hung up the phone.
The next day taped to the outside of the mailbox was a letter with “Confidential” stamped on the envelope. Inside was a letter from the Department of Health Services stating the source declined to comply with quarantine and with monitoring by the New York State Contact Tracing Initiative. The letter stated, "The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has become aware that you recently traveled to New York from a state experiencing significant community spread of COVID-19, and that you have declined to comply with quarantine and with monitoring by the New York State Contact Tracing Initiative. As described in the attached quarantine order, quarantine is a legal requirement, and as such, is legally enforceable. Please call us as soon as possible". Enclosed with the letter was the New York State Quarantine Order.
In a draconian push, New York law now requires anyone coming to New York State from certain states throughout the country to quarantine for 14 days. This is a requirement, not a request, with the fines for non-compliance being $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and up to $10,000 if they cause harm.
In Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) set up checkpoints at key entry points throughout the city, he said at a news conference on August 5th.
“Travelers coming in from those states will be given information about the quarantine, they will be reminded that it is required, not optional,” de Blasio said at a press briefing. “They’ll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law and it comes with serious penalties.”
Test & Trace Corps, which launched on June 1st, 2020, is a new agency specifically created for the purpose of tracing and testing people coming into the city and assuring that any traveler from a state designated as having positive tests in excess of 10% is traced and quarantines. This is based upon a seven day rolling average or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents. Dr. Ted Long, Vice President of Ambulatory Care at New York City Health + Hospitals is heading up the Test and Trace program. He said that a fifth of all new coronavirus cases in New York City is from out-of-state travelers.
Travelers are told they are required to fill out the traveler form at the airport, bus station, train station, and the city has also partnered with hotels, train, bus, and car rental companies. There are even checkpoints at bridges and tunnels set up randomly by the Sheriff's Department. "The checkpoints at bridges and tunnels will be “very visible” and may shift locations from day to day", said Sheriff Joseph Fucito. "Depending on traffic conditions, deputies may set up full-fledged checkpoints or do individual vehicle stops. They’ll rely on license plate readers to choose cars to stop, flagging, for example, every sixth or every eighth car".
“The only way to have an effective checkpoint is having a random component to it,” Fucito said. “We’re not looking to target out of state residents,” he said. “What we’re looking to do is to educate people who have spent time at Covid-19 hot spots, regardless of their residence, when they come into New York.”
Our source said from the moment they stepped off the plane it felt like a "police state". They were immediately contacted by a representative of the Tracing Initiative. If the traveler does not respond by answering the phone a representative will go to the residence that is listed on the traveler form to confirm that the person is indeed quarantining, and monitors every move of the person daily. Anyone falling under the order will only be allowed out of quarantine after the 14 days are up, or when they are given permission by the Department of Health after determining they are no longer a threat to spreading the virus. Several states are considering adopting New York's Test and Trace Program.
Jane, who contacted to this reporter, is both fearful, and powerless saying “I never would have thought that the government in a free country would be targeting its own citizens in such a draconian way. NYers are left with no recourse. I hope that by speaking out, others see how terrifying this is and petition the government to stop.”