Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.) has a message for any New Yorkers who want to come to visit her state: keep out.
Raimondo has called out the National Guard to go door-to-door to find anyone from New York City who has come to the state in recent weeks. “Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Raimondo said at a news conference Friday. “That risk is called New York City.”
The state police in Rhode Island have begun pulling over cars with New York plates. Raimondo says anyone from New York City found to have recently come into the state will be automatically quarantined for 14 days.
Rhode Island, which had some 162 confirmed cases by late Friday compared to New York State’s total of more than 44,000, joined a host of other municipalities and states trying bar entry to New Yorkers living in the epicenter of the US’ coronavirus outbreak.
The Hamptons, counties north of the city, and governors in Florida, Maryland, Texas and South Carolina have all also ordered New Yorkers to keep out or undergo mandatory two-week quarantines.
Cuomo said he was opposed to such restrictions, at least within the state.
“I don’t like it socially or culturally,” Cuomo said during a radio appearance Friday on WAMC. “I don’t like what it says about us as one state, one family. Also, I don’t believe it’s medically justified.”
Not medically justified? Hey, Andy. There are 44,000 people in your largest city who have tested positive for the virus. The only thing in this situation that might not be medically justified is building a wall surrounding the Big Apple and turning it into one big hospital ward. Or perhaps some kind of Escape from New York prison.
Raimondo acknowledged her policy is extreme. Fox News:
“I know it’s unusual. I know it’s extreme and I know some people disagree with it,” she said.
“If you want to seek refuge in Rhode Island, you must be quarantined.”
Not exactly what the founders had in mind when they created a “federal republic.”
But what does the ACLU have to say about this? Fox News:
“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” said Steven Brown, the executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, 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,” Brown added.
Once again, all together now — and with feeling:
The Constitution is not a suicide pact.
While the ACLU’s reaction is predictable, it obscures a larger issue: New York is being gradually isolated and its citizens are being forced to wear the mark of Cain. In the long run, this probably isn’t a good idea. But for the short term, perhaps New York could help out a little and urge residents not to travel out of state. You won’t be much safer anyway, and the rest of us would breathe a sigh of relief knowing you’re at home.
What happens in New York, stays in New York.