R.I. residents added to travel advisories in Mass., N.Y., N.J., Conn.
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has been added to travel advisory lists in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York as of Tuesday.
Rhode Islanders traveling to these states must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, or be subject to the possibility of being fined. Those who cannot quarantine will have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
According to Will Burns, a spokesman for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, visitors coming from states with a positive test rate of higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a weekly rolling average will require a quarantine period or test.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that it was adding Rhode Island to their travel advisory list late on Tuesday, after Connecticut, New Jersey and New York had already made it public. Massachusetts categorizes just seven states as “COVID-19 Lower Risk states,” which includes Connecticut, Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.
R.I. Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken said RIDOH is in “regular contact” with other regional health officials about COVID-19.
“Different states are taking different approaches in making policies for out-of-state travelers,” wrote Wendelken in an email to a Providence Business News reporter. “Most states are looking at numbers of new cases when making decisions about policies related to travel.”
Rhode Island currently has a weekly average of 5.44% for those people getting tested for the first time, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Tracking Initiative. The World Health Organization recommends travel advisories for visitors from states with a 5% positive rate or higher. Rhode Island hit this mark for the first time on July 31 with a 5.3% positive rate.
There were 4,558 COVID-19 tests conducted in Rhode Island on Tuesday with an overall positive rate of 2.7%. When excluding both repeat negative and repeat positive results, the positive rate for the day was 7.1%.
Wendelken has previously pushed back on JHU’s tracking system, which are similar numbers to the COVID-19 Tracking Project by The Atlantic, and mirrors what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also publicizing.
“The way that [the JHU tracking system and COVID-19 Tracking Project] are counting percent positive is off because they’re just not using correct numbers,” said Wendelken.
However, Rhode Island uses this same tracking system when implementing 14-day quarantining restrictions on visitors coming into the state from areas of the country that are also seeing a 5% positive rate or higher.
Last month, Maine also listed Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents on their travel advisory lists.
“Rhode Islanders should know that COVID-19 spreads easily, especially when people are in large groups, and especially when people are not wearing masks. It is critical that people take these steps to prevent the spread of the illness,” said Wendelken, who explained that RIDOH has seen a number of cases among people in their 20s over the last few weeks as well as cases tied to informal family gatherings.
A spokesman for Gov. Gina M. Raimondo was not immediately available for comment.
(UPDATES throughout with Massachusetts joining the other states.)
Alexa Gagosz is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at [email protected].
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