Mad Money

Rhode Island governor mulls restrictions on travelers from coronavirus hot spot states: 'I don't want to go backwards'

Key Points
  • "I'm thinking about either limiting travel or having mandatory testing for people who come from a hot spot or possibly quarantining," Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo told CNBC as coronavirus cases spike in some parts of the country.
  • "I haven't decided yet exactly how to do this because I want it to be practical and enforceable, but you better believe I'm worried about it, because we've worked incredibly hard (to contain the outbreak) and I don't want to go backwards," she said in a "Mad Money" interview.
  • The potential move would follow New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's new 14-day quarantine orders on a number of Southern states where the Covid-19 outbreak is growing.
VIDEO2:5802:58
Rhode Island governor mulls new travel restrictions on hot spot coronavirus states

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Wednesday that she is considering measures to enforce quarantine and travel restrictions on visitors from emerging coronavirus hotspots after three neighboring states imposed safety orders.

The Ocean State, which is the smallest U.S. state by land size but second most-densely populated state in the country, may implement plans similar to those of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where officials on Thursday will begin enforcing a 14-day quarantine on travelers from states where Covid-19 cases are spiking.

"I'm thinking about either limiting travel or having mandatory testing for people who come from a hot spot or possibly quarantining," she said in a "Mad Money" interview. "I haven't decided yet exactly how to do this because I want it to be practical and enforceable, but you better believe I'm worried about it, because we've worked incredibly hard (to contain the outbreak) and I don't want to go backwards."

The three governors in the New York tri-state area, once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, said they would place constraints and sometimes fines on travelers from states — most being in the South — where Covid-19 infection rates have risen substantially in recent weeks. The orders, which include a two-week self-isolation rule and an initial fine of $2,000 on arrivals who refuse to adhere to the quarantine measure, thus far apply to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas.

The quarantine applies to people coming from states where the positivity rate is above 10% over a seven-day rolling average.

The tri-state area in March was originally the target of traveler quarantine mandates by states such as Florida and Texas. Now that the new infection rate in the area has come down, the tide has turned, as the virus is now spreading in the South and West. The Dow Jones dropped more than 700 points in Wednesday's session as coronavirus fears began weighing on stocks again.

Rhode Island, which was also among the initial hard-hit states, reopened businesses two months ago after aggressive testing helped the state test more residents per capita than others in efforts to slow the spread of the deadly virus. As of Wednesday, Rhode Island has tested more than 20% of its roughly 1 million residents and achieved a test-positive rate of under 2%, Raimondo said.

More than 16,600 people have tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 900 people have died of complications in Rhode Island, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The state has 1,568 cases per 100,000 people.

"Very early on in this crisis, I took a — what some would say — heavy-handed approach. I actually used our National Guard to monitor cars coming in from other states, including New York, to ask them to go into quarantine if they were coming from a place like New York City that was a hot spot," the second-term Democratic governor said.

Raimondo, who is a venture capitalist, went on to defend those measures, which she said she received some criticism for.

"The truth of it is, like I've said, Rhode Island is the only state in America where we've tested 20% of the population, hospitalizations are going down, business has been open for months, and I have to do everything that I need to in order to keep commerce flowing in my state without hospitalizations going through the roof," she explained.

Raimondo also said that public-private partnerships were a part of her state's efforts to attack the outbreak. Rhode Island worked with Salesforce on contact tracing, CVS Health for coronavirus testing and Survey Monkey to collect data, among other partnerships.

"Innovation is the reason Rhode Island is in such a great position," Raimondo said.

VIDEO8:3208:32
Governor talks slowing the spread of coronavirus in Rhode Island

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