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Cuomo : New York could replace out of state quarantine with targeted testing  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office file photo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

With 43 states now on New York State’s banned list, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s talking to health experts about a possible testing regimen that could end the mandatory quarantine period.

People coming to New York from all of the states on the list are required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Cuomo says he realizes that hurts the economy and that enforcement is problematic. He says it might be possible to use rapid tests to avoid the 14-day sequestration period.

“There’s new testing technology, there are rapid tests, is there a better, smarter way to handle a quarantine?” said Cuomo. “None of this has been done before, so we’re figuring it out as it goes.”

But Cuomo says he’s not ready to deploy that plan, so the quarantines are still required, for now.  

The governor also released more detailed rules on how to determine whether an area where positive cases are growing can be designated as a red zone, and how that area gets off the hotspot list.  Cuomo says the shut down orders for the virus clusters are working, and the rate of transmission is going down in some areas. As a result, he has upgraded some red zones in Brooklyn and Queens to yellow zones, which means some businesses can open and people’s movements will be less restricted.

“Although we’ve made a lot of progress, the numbers are still not acceptable,” Cuomo said. “So we have more to do.”  

The governor says other areas are experiencing upticks, including along the Pennsylvania border. New areas of concern include rural Steuben and Chemung Counties in the Southern Tier.

The rate of the virus statewide has climbed to 1.62%, the highest since June, but New York still has one of the lowest rates of the disease in the country, behind only Maine and Massachusetts.  Cuomo predicts that the numbers will continue to rise as the weather gets colder. But he says he’d like to confine the outbreaks to micro clusters, where the virus can hopefully be controlled and avoid a wider spread of the disease.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.