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NYC setting up COVID-19 checkpoints for visitors

CBS News logo CBS News 8/5/2020 Caitlin O'Kane
a group of people in a city: New York Governor Cuomo Holds Briefing In Manhattan © David Dee Delgado / Getty Images New York Governor Cuomo Holds Briefing In Manhattan

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York City had no COVID-19 deaths for three straight days. There were only three COVID-19 deaths in the entire state on Monday. Despite the progress, the governor issued a stark warning for residents to continue to take the virus seriously — and the city announced it's setting up checkpoints to inform visitors of quarantine rules.

"Our progress in New York is even better than we expected, thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must protect that progress, which is why today we are adding another state to our travel advisory. We cannot go back to the hell we experienced just a few months ago — and surging infection rates across the country threaten to bring us back there — so we must all remain vigilant."

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The governor has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling to New York from other states with high rates of infections. Visitors coming from 35 states are currently affected. While Delaware and Washington, D.C., were removed from the list, Rhode Island was added on Tuesday.

Several states, including neighboring New Jersey, have seen a recent uptick in cases. CBS New York asked Cuomo if he would add New Jersey to the quarantine list if the numbers kept trending up. 

"I don't know how you could quarantine New Jersey... They don't fly into New York. You'd have to blockade roads, and we're not talking about blockading," he said. "We're going to keep our fingers crossed and work with them to get the number down."

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio went further, announcing during a press briefing that checkpoints are being set up at key entry points into the city. 

"Travelers coming in from those states [on the quarantine list] will be given information about the quarantine. They'll be reminded that it's required not optional. They'll be reminded that failure to quarantine is a violation of state law — and it comes with serious penalties," de Blasio said, adding that under certain circumstances fines could be as as high as $10,000.

"This is serious stuff," de Blasio said. "If we're going to hold at this level of health and safety in the city and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who has traveled." 

In addition to the travel advisory, many other precautions remain in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. Restaurants are only allowed to offer outdoor seating and must ensure social distancing, and large gatherings are still banned.

It's a huge turnaround from early in the pandemic, when New York was the biggest hot spot in the nation. At the peak in early April, the state was reporting nearly 800 COVID-19 deaths per day.

There have been a total of at least 417,589 confirmed cases in the New York and more than 25,000 deaths, according to state health data. 

Of the 70,993 coronavirus test results reported to New York State on Monday, 746 — a rate of just 1.05% — were positive, according to the governor's office.

On Sunday, Cuomo said in a statement that 6 million tests have been conducted, "and the numbers are just about where we want them to be, which is all very good news and says that our plan is working."

"However, context is important, and there are storm clouds on the horizon in the form of new cases throughout the country and a lack of compliance here in the state, and I urge New Yorkers to stay New York Smart and local governments to properly enforce state guidance," he said.

a statue of a person: Photos of New York City during the coronavirus crisis 70 photos © Provided by CBS News Photos of New York City during the coronavirus crisis 70 photos
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