New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has chartered new territory in the seemingly unlimited ocean of power supplied to state and local leaders amid the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. In a press conference on Tuesday, Cuomo threatened out of state travelers with hefty fines and even mandatory isolation if they failed to fill out an invasive form that detailed their trip to the Empire State.
As of Tuesday, 22 states met the criteria for Cuomo's newest restriction, which will serve a questionnaire to all incoming travelers from those areas. The entire southern portion of the United States is included on the list in addition to Idaho, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
In airports across New York, arriving passengers will be given a form demanding trip details and contact information prior to deplaning, ensuring state officials that they will be self-isolating for 14 days. "Enforcement teams" will be stationed at all airports to make sure that each passenger from those 22 states hands in their form. If they don't, Cuomo threatened, they will face a $2,000 fine, a possible court summons, and mandatory isolation.
It was not immediately clear what Cuomo meant by "mandatory isolation" for airline passengers and whether enforcement teams would be arresting those passengers who did not comply with the order to hand over their personal information and agree to two weeks of isolation.
Compliance outside of airports posed another question that couldn't be answered during the Monday announcement. The governor claimed that passengers arriving to New York by car, bus, or train from "hot spot" states, nearly half of the country, would be asked to fill out a compliance form online. There was no mention of how that order would be mandated.
Cuomo's latest threat against people planning to travel to New York follows up a tri-state agreement between New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that also required travelers from specific hot spots to agree to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to the area. The governor admitted that the order was nearly impossible to enforce, despite the $10,000 fine associated with non-compliance. No fines for violation of that order had been issued, though visitors from Georgia had been blamed for recent clusters in certain parts of New York.
As Cuomo and leftist leaders in New York support the anti-police movement and the stunning effort to defund the NYPD, it is even less clear how the governor plans to enforce much of anything across the state. Police in New York have filed for retirement at record levels as the public attitude against them continues to sour, with full support from Cuomo and his administration.
The governor's serious tone against people planning trips to New York, whether for vacation, business, or just returning home, also flies in the face of the crippled economy of his state, which he claims to be concerned about. Just as restaurants are attempting to open back up, vacationers will have to change their plans or be forced to quarantine for two weeks waiting to enjoy their vacation, an impossibility for the majority of living, breathing humans.
Mask mandates and social distancing guidelines are in place across the state and levels of infection have continued to fall, further frustrating potential visitors to the area. Millions of New Yorkers are still out of work, struggling to pay rent and mortgages as Cuomo issues yet another draconian, senseless, and unenforceable ban.
The order also follows a bizarre "New York Tough" poster Cuomo commissioned for the state championing his own efforts in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The posters, featuring a cartoonish reimagining of the state's pandemic response, including President Trump on a moon and a man dangling from something called "The Boyfriend Cliff," are retailing on Ny.gov for $14.50. Even the governor's supporters questioned why the leader of the hardest-hit state with the highest concentration of fatalities and nursing home tragedies would declare any kind of victory and attempt to collect money from New Yorkers with a souvenir.
IMAGE: @NYGovCuomo releases a "New York Tough" political poster that reminds me of what you'd see in the New Deal chapter of a history textbook or, appropriately, on the New York State U.S. History Regents. pic.twitter.com/lN8EmKL3wo— Andrew Donovan (@AndrewDonovan) July 13, 2020
"He's actually selling his self-congratulatory poster that's centered around a visual representation of 32,000 deaths," associate editor of Tablet Magazine Noah Baum said. "Was Cuomo always this repugnant or does this much media flattery make anyone lose perspective?" Cuomo has been lambasted for forcing COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic, a response that greatly contributed to the high rate of fatalities in the state.
Still operating under the blanket emergency powers, Cuomo's latest move to restrict travelers and issue unconstitutional threats seems to serve as proof that pandemic instilled tyranny at the state levels has not abated. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with Democratic leaders across the country, have tested the limits of their power under seemingly endless pandemic law. At what point will constitutional rights for their constituents come back into play?