The governor of Texas has ordered anyone arriving in the state from the top U.S. coronavirus hotspots to quarantine themselves for 14 days, or face criminal penalties including jail time.
Governor Greg Abbott issued the executive order on Thursday, saying anyone arriving at an airport in Texas from either New York, Connecticut, New Jersey or New Orleans must register with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Those travelers will then be under orders to self-quarantine at a home or a hotel for 14 days, and not allow any visitors aside from qualified healthcare professionals.
Anyone found in violation of the order will face criminal charges including a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail.
Governor Greg Abbott issued the executive order on Thursday, saying anyone arriving at an airport in Texas from either New York, Connecticut, New Jersey or New Orleans must register with the Texas Department of Public Safety
Passengers wearing masks and gloves walk through a terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston earlier this month
Abbott said that DPS officers will be checking on people under quarantine and enforcing the order.
‘During this period, a quarantined person shall not allow visitors into or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a physician or healthcare provider, and cannot visit any public spaces,’ Abbott said at a press conference.
‘The New York Tri-State Area and the City of New Orleans have become major centers of this pandemic, and it is vital that we take necessary precautions to prevent additional exposure that could originate from people traveling from these areas to Texas,’ he said.
The governor’s order to self-quarantine does not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions.
Abbott said that the goal of the order is to attempt to limit the further spread of coronavirus in Texas. That state now has at least 1,500 confirmed cases and 17 deaths.
A park bench is cordoned off Wednesday in Houston. A stay-at-home order was issued Tuesday for Houston and Harris County residents to help fight the spread of COVID-19
Traffic in and out of downtown Houston is lighter than normal Wednesday. All visitors to Texas from the tri-state and New Orleans will now have to quarantine for 14 days
New York is now the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with 37,258 confirmed cases and at least 385 deaths.
New Orleans has seen the fastest growth in the nation. The number of cases in Louisiana jumped by 510 in a single day on Thursday, to 2,300, up 28 percent from the night before, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Abbott’s order follows a similar executive order in Florida demanding all travelers from New York self-quarantine for 14 days.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued the order on Tuesday, saying local law enforcement and the Florida Department of Health would meet people after they got off planes and register them for self-quarantine.
‘There’ll be some information taken and I think they’re going to do temperature checks,’ he said.
However, on Wednesday it was apparent that stringent checks had yet to be put in place.
The number of cases in the US has rocketed over the last two weeks
Three people who arrived at Fort Lauderdale’s airport told the Sun-Sentinel that they did not have their temperatures checked.
And there was no visible sign that any screening was in place for in-bound passengers, they said.
Passengers said that forms warning of the quarantine order had been distributed by the airlines before landing, which they were told to sign and deposit in a box at the arrival gate.
However it was unclear whether anyone was monitoring the boxes, and airlines don’t appear to have to authority to force passengers to sign the forms.
The U.S. now leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
According to a running count by Johns Hopkins University, the number of people infected in the U.S. topped 82,000 on Thursday. That’s just ahead of the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy.
Italy has the most confirmed deaths of any country with more than 8,000. More than 1,000 people have died in the U.S.