The announcement was made along with the governors of New York and Connecticut, which all agreed to the restriction. The travel advisory takes effect at midnight Wednesday and applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. There’s nine states that currently meet the criteria.
“We’ve been clobbered by this virus. No region in this country has paid a bigger price,” Murphy said during a joint appearance by the governors. “This is a smart thing to do he said. We have taken our people, these three states, to hell and back.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spearheaded the announcement and hosted a news conference that Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont joined by video.
“We went from the highest viral transmission rate to some of the lowest rates in the country,” Cuomo said. “So I applaud my colleagues for doing an extraordinary job. We now have to ensure that the rate continues to drop. What happens in New York, happens in New Jersey and happens in Connecticut.”
Cuomo said the states included would have “significant community spread of COVID.”
The list of states currently includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. That could change based on test results.
The announcement comes as new coronavirus cases in the U.S. have surged to their highest level in two months and are now back to where they were at the peak of the outbreak.
The U.S. on Tuesday reported 34,700 new cases of the virus, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published Wednesday. There have been only two previous days that the U.S. has reported more cases: April 9 and April 24, when a record 36,400 cases were logged.
New cases in the U.S. have been surging for more than a week after trending down for more than six weeks. While early hot spots like New York and New Jersey have seen new cases steadily decrease, the virus has been hitting the south and west. Several states on Tuesday set single-day records, including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas.
As of Tuesday, the outbreak in New Jersey claimed the lives of at least 12,949 residents with 169,734 total confirmed cases as the state continues to press forward with Stage 2 of its reopening plan. The latest numbers include 57 new deaths and 382 new cases.
New Jersey has seen steady declines in both since the peak of the outbreak in the state in April.
As for people traveling to the Garden State, including New Jersey residents returning home after spending time in an area with high rates of COVID-19, Murphy said the advisory relies on people to “do the right thing.”
“Constitutionally, we’re not able to put up border checks around New Jersey,” Murphy said later in the day during his COVID-19 briefing. “We’re asking folks to take on a big amount of personal responsibility here. Do the right thing among themselves.”
Murphy reversed course from statements he made a day earlier suggesting officials would only “suggest” a quarantine.
On Tuesday, Murphy said he had been in talks with regional governors after he was asked during his regular COVID-19 briefing whether out-of-state travelers should be ordered to quarantine.
“It’s a topic of a fair amount of back and forth among New York, Connecticut and ourselves. My guess is we’ll probably have something more to say on that,” he said. “But I would say a strong urging if you’re coming in, we can’t prevent you constitutionally from coming either back into New Jersey or into New Jersey, but we can strongly ask you to consider one or both paths here, depending on where you come out on your test.”
He added: “No state in America has a spot positivity rate that I’m aware of under 2% so by definition, no matter where you’re coming from, you’re probably coming from a state that’s got a higher hit rate right now with the virus than we have. So strong request, as strongly as we can, recommendation, please get tested, and quarantine accordingly, depending on what that test result looks like.”
New Jersey entered the second week of Stage 2 reopening Monday as barbershops and beauty salons can again serve customers, youth sports are allowed to resume and private swim clubs and municipal pools can open for the summer. Outdoor gatherings may also be increased Monday from 100 to 250 people as long as people who don’t reside in the same household keep at least 6 feet apart. Protests and religious gatherings are exempt.
Murphy said Stage 3 could come within weeks, not months, if the state’s outbreak continues to slow.