New Jersey drops travel formula, urges quarantine amid COVID-19 rise


Traveling during the coronavirus outbreak? Here is the latest on NJ Transit and toll updates.

With COVID-19 cases rising at an “alarming rate,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday abandoned the formula to determine which out-of-state travelers should quarantine once they reach the state.

Instead, Murphy said anyone coming into the Garden State from beyond the four-state region of Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania should isolate for 14 days.

“Given the increased risk of spreading COVID-19 for both residents who travel outside the state and for visitors into the state, New Jersey continues to strongly discourage all non-essential interstate travel at this time,” Murphy said in a statement. 

His announcement came on one of the busiest traveling holidays of the year.  About 50 million people were expected to travel in the United States for Thanksgiving, according to AAA.

That would be a decline from past years, but federal and state officials, including Murphy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have urged people to stay home this year and keep their Thanksgiving celebrations to immediate family members and fewer than 10 people to avoid spreading the coronavirus. 

Murphy and the governors of Connecticut and New York first issued the travel advisory in June to try to limit the virus’ reach from states seeing surges similar to what the region experienced in the spring.

States would make the advisory list if they had an average daily number of new cases higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period or had at least a 10% positivity rate over seven days.

The list gradually grew through the summer into the fall until it had 47 states and jurisdictions as of Tuesday. 

But there was no enforcement in place, and in New Jersey, contact tracing and other public health efforts were minimal at airports.

Now that the second wave of cases is here — and counties throughout New Jersey would qualify for isolation — the metrics used for the travel advisory have been rendered obsolete. 

The Department of Health will issue more information “in the coming days,” Murphy said. 

New Jersey added 4,073 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 50 new lab-confirmed deaths and 2,902 hospitalizations. 

More: As COVID cases spike in NJ, contact tracing at EWR is minimal compared to NY, travelers say

More: NJ, NY quarantine advisory expands to 19 states including Delaware

Dustin Racioppi is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @dracioppi 

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