Donald Trump’s proposed idea to impose statewide quarantines on places like New York and New Jersey would not be effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus and almost impossible to enforce, a public health expert says.
As cases of COVID-19 in the metro New York City area continue to surge, President Trump proposed an idea to place the states on lockdown. While Trump did not have any solid plans yet to follow through, he suggested on Saturday that a lockdown would be short-term and could last up to two weeks.
“We’re thinking about certain things. Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot…. We might not have to do it, but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short-term, two weeks on New York. Probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut,” Trump told reporters on Saturday, via CNN.
The plan has come under criticism from some experts. Joshua Sharfstein, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, told Politico that a quarantine would not be effective and that the energy put into enforcing the ban would be better spent on “core public health response activities.” The report added that other experts have called the quarantine plans ineffective in slowing the outbreak and too difficult to enforce.
Trump’s suggestion of a region-wide quarantine also came as a surprise to state leaders, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo telling reporters that he had never spoken to Trump about a quarantine, and also said he believed the idea would be pointless.
“I don’t even know what that means,” Cuomo said, via the New York Times. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. From a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. I don’t even like the sound of it.”
The metro New York City region has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with nearly 30,000 cases as of Saturday. The state has already enacted some of the most stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus, one of the first in the nation to order the closure of all non-essential businesses and instructing residents to remain in their homes as much as possible.
Cuomo said this week that the worst could be yet to come, with the virus likely to continue spreading rapidly for another two to three weeks before peaking.
As Politico noted, it was unclear if Trump had the authority to call for the quarantine he suggested, or exactly what it would entail.