The state of Florida will be setting up highway checkpoints and calling on state troopers to screen for New Yorkers fleeing the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to force them to quarantine.
As The New York Post reported, the checkpoints will be set up on busy Interstate 95, used by many traveling to the Sunshine State from the north. State officials in Florida said they plan to screen for New York residents in order to slow the potential spread of COVID-19, which has hit the Empire State the hardest, particularly the New York City area.
On Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he believed the checkpoints would be necessary as the state tries to stem to the spread of the deadly virus.
“I think it’s in everybody’s interest that we deal with the spread that we have here now, try to blunt it, flatten the curve, but we don’t allow importing new infections,” the governor said, via the Tampa Bay Times.
The New York Post report noted that Florida had already done the same along Interstate 10 to screen travelers fleeing the outbreak in Louisiana, but identifying those leaving New York has been a particular concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued an advisory that anyone who has been in the New York City tri-state area self-quarantine for 14 days and to refrain from traveling.
President Donald Trump this weekend even floated the idea of issuing a federal quarantine for the greater New York City area. Though he ultimately backed off the idea, it had the support of the Florida governor. As Politico noted, DeSantis said he agreed with the idea of imposing stringent measures to keep the New York outbreak quarantined and expressed frustration at residents fleeing the outbreak to head to his state.
“How is it fair to them to just be air dropping in people from the hot zones, bringing infections with them and seeding the communities with new infections that they’re trying to stamp out?” DeSantis said. “I just think it’s bad policy to have people dispersing from there, and then seeding in other parts of the country, including the state of Florida.”
As The New York Post noted, travelers who fly from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or else face a 60-day jail sentence. It was not clear if Florida would be able to carry out the same guidelines for those traveling by car.