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Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo repealed an order for the police to stop only cars crossing the border with license plates from New York, the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.
She did so after an outcry from civil rights groups and a threat of legal action from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.Rhode Island Police to Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge
Instead, she’ll require all cars, regardless of origin, entering from the state’s southern border from Connecticut and three key highway locations to pull over. There, all visitors will be told they need to self-quarantine for 14 days -- a reflection of the divide and fear around the nation over the virus’s rapid spread.
The National Guard is also checking for out-of-state travelers at bus and train stations and at T.F. Green International Airport.
Colonel James Manni, Rhode Island State Police superintendent, said he was confident that the new system of monitoring stations doesn’t violate anyone’s rights.
Cuomo hadthreatened to sue Rhode Island after state troopers began stopping cars on Friday, and then on Saturday, with the National Guard, went to summer houses believed to be owned by New Yorkers.
Texas, meantime, said it would stop all cars from Louisiana, which has reported some 3,500 coronavirus cases, and demand that traveler obey 14 days of self quarantine. The order doesn’t apply to commercial, military or emergency responder traffic.
“Our neighbors in Louisiana have a massive amount of Covid-19, not just in New Orleans, but spreading out into Louisiana,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters Sunday.
At Texas airports, people from a larger number of states with outbreaks will be stopped and also ordered to self-quarantine.
Cuomo said he spoke with Raimondo and was pleased she rescinded the order.
“I don’t think the order was called for,” he told reporters in Albany on Sunday. “I don’t believe it was legal. I don’t believe it was neighborly.”
“I thank her very much for reconsidering,” he said.
Shielding Rhode Island
Raimondo rejected the idea that fellow-Democrat Cuomo had pressured her to rescind the New York-specific order.
“I did talk to the governor of New York yesterday,” she said at a Statehouse briefing. “It was after I had already taken my action, and we chatted about it.”
“If he feels it’s important for him to take credit, go ahead,” she said. “I’m going to keep working here to keep Rhode Islanders safe.”
Raimondo had defended her order as necessary to protect the lives of citizens of Rhode Island, where many New Yorkers have summer homes. She said she was concerned with “outcomes, not optics,” given the scale of the outbreak in New York and its proximity to Rhode Island.
On Sunday, Raimondo announced Rhode Island’s third Covid-19 death and 55 new cases since Saturday, bringing total cases in the state to 294. That includes 35 people in the hospital.
“That’s a big jump,” she said. “We’re starting to go up the curve at a pretty fast clip. It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better.”
In his briefing Sunday, Cuomo said that total coronavirus cases in New York had risen to 59,513, with 965 deaths.
— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Katrina Lewis, and Laurel Brubaker Calkins
(Augmented stopping areas for Rhode Island in 3d paragraph, added Texas from 7th paragraph)
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