President Trump is mulling a 14-day quarantine for the Tri-State area, but Rhode Island’s Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo has already gone DEFCON 1 with regards to containing the spread into her state: she’s giving the green light for the National Guard and state law enforcement agencies to stop New Yorkers from coming into the state. It’s no exaggeration. Some New Yorkers have summer homes in the state and Gov. Raimondo said they will be going door-to-door to search these residences. Anyone from New York discovered will be ordered into self-quarantine for 14 days.
Anyone driving into the state with New York license plates can be pulled over by the police. As for bus stops, airports, and Amtrak stations, the National Guard will be stationed there. Raimondo’s order is clear to those from the Empire State: We’re closed. Of course, the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter is crying foul (via Bloomberg):
Hunting license required, but no bag limit. https://t.co/hMtxGn6uJ5— jon gabriel (@exjon) March 28, 2020
Rhode Island police began stopping cars with New York plates Friday. On Saturday, the National Guard will help them conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York and demand 14 days of self-quarantine.
“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. “That risk is called New York City.”
Many New Yorkers have summer houses in Rhode Island, especially in tony Newport, and the governor said the authorities would be checking there.
“Yesterday I announced and today I reiterated: Anyone coming to Rhode Island in any way from New York must be quarantined,” the governor said. “By order. Will be enforced. Enforceable by law.”
National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences. The maximum penalty for not complying: a fine of $500 and 90 days in prison.
While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown said in a statement. “Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.”
Gov. Raimondo signed this executive order on Thursday. The publication added that signs concerning the quarantine were set up near the Connecticut border ordering all drivers from New York to pull into the nearest rest stop area where the police would be waiting. The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has led to over 100,000 people being infected with close to 2,000 deaths. It’s highly contagious. And young people can still get extremely ill from the virus, though they’re the age group that has a better chance of surviving infection. The elderly and the immunocompromised are at the greatest risk of death from infection. This virus can last on some surfaces for up to three days and in the air for hours. On average, an infected person spreads the disease to at least two-to-three people on average, whereas the flu is a one-to-one ratio. New York City makes up close to half of all cases in the U.S. New Orleans is also looking like another hotbed. The two cities celebrated Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras respectively which explains the Wuhan virus exploding in those areas.
Rhode Island is pushing the limits on the Constitution. It’s not pretty, but here we are.