Coronavirus: Trump weighs tri-state quarantine as N.Y. postpones its presidential primary

As coronavirus cases kept rising in the national epicenter of New York, U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday he is considering a quarantine affecting residents of the state and neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he wasn’t sure what the president meant but didn’t “like the sound of it.” Meanwhile, Cuomo postponed New York’s presidential primary from April to June, and nurses made anguished pleas for more protective equipment and rebuffed officials’ claims that supplies are adequate.

With New York cases expected to mushroom toward a mid-to-late-April peak, Cuomo took a manual-pump air mask in hand to show what might lie in store if needed ventilators don’t arrive.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments in New York:

A TRI-STATE QUARANTINE?

Trump told reporters at the White House he was weighing the idea of a quarantine to prevent people in the tri-state area from travelling for a short time.

All 50 U.S. states have reported some cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, but New York has the most, with over 52,000 positive tests for the illness and more than 700 deaths.

The federal government has the power to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among states, but it’s not clear whether that means Trump can order people not to leave their states.

Trump cited requests from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican and outspoken Trump supporter who has complained about New Yorkers coming to his state amid the outbreak and ordered them to isolate themselves on arrival for 14 days.

Trump said he had spoken with Cuomo, but the Democratic governor said there had been no talk of a quarantine when the two spoke Saturday morning.

“I don’t even know what that means, I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “I don’t like the sound of it.”

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PRIMARY DELAYED

Cuomo said he was delaying the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23, when the state plans to hold legislative congressional and local party primaries.

“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing people to one location to vote” on the April date, he said.

New York joins over a dozen states that have delayed some elections. A smaller group including Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana and Kentucky have also postponed their presidential primaries.

The governor’s decision came as election commissioners across New York warned they were “risking” their health and safety to meet impending deadlines for testing machines and preparing ballots ahead of the April 28 date.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

MANUAL AIR MASKS

As the state continues scrambling to try to amass 30,000 ventilators ahead of a projected mid-to-late-April peak in coronavirus cases, Cuomo bluntly illustrated the alternative: masks with manually operated air bags.

He said the state has bought 3,000 of them, has ordered 4,000 more and is considering training National Guard personnel to operate them. It entails pumping the bulb-like bag by hand — 24 hours a day for every patient in need.

“If we have to turn to this device on any large-scale basis, that is not an acceptable situation,” Cuomo said, “so we go back to finding the ventilators.”

The federal government has sent over 4,000 ventilators to the state and New York City this week.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

— A Navy hospital ship is due to arrive Monday in New York City as part of efforts to increase the number of hospital beds available.

— Health officials warned of the potential spread of the virus in prisons and jails.

— Retirement communities also continued to cause concern, with one Long Island complex reporting six deaths from the coronavirus in less than two weeks.

— Drivers with New York license plates are being pulled over by Rhode Island State Police so that National Guard officials can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

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Thompson reported from Buffalo, N.Y. Associated Press writers Julie Walker in New York and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed.

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