President Donald Trump said Saturday he's considering quarantining New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as COVID-19 "hot spots," even though the governors of all three states said they did not speak to Trump about a quarantine.
Trump told reporters on the South Lawn on Saturday that he had spoken to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, then added, "Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hotspot."
"I’m thinking about that right now," he said. "We might not have to do it, but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine — short-term, two weeks — on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts of Connecticut."
As of Sunday, the president opted not to take that route, and instead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory including the three states. But before that, Trump's quarantine comments prompted confusion from millions of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents — as well as the states' governors.
On Saturday, Trump told reporters that Florida is having "problems" with New Yorkers flocking to the state.
"We don't want that. Heavily infected," he said.
DeSantis later confirmed that he had spoken with Trump about a quarantine. He echoed the president's comments about infected New Yorkers flying into Florida, calling New York City a "perfect petri dish."
"We’re either trying to fight this virus or we’re not," he said, adding that Floridians are "sacrificing."
"I think it’s an issue when you have folks in the hot zone leaving the hot zone to come to different parts of the country," DeSantis told reporters. He said a passenger flying into Jacksonville from New York who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was intercepted upon landing and sent to a hospital.
DeSantis, meanwhile, has been criticized for his slow response to the threat of COVID-19 and only closing Florida's beaches after throngs of spring breakers freely flocked to them.
"These are our neighbors who may need to go out there, clear their head," he explained, before changing his mind amid widespread criticism.
It's unclear how the federal government would enforce a quarantine on more than 30 million people who live in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Governors of all three states were confused.
Cuomo, who appeared taken aback when asked by a reporter about the quarantine Saturday, said he didn't know what it would accomplish or how it would be enforced.
"I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable and from a medical point of view don’t know what you would be accomplishing, but I can tell you I don’t even like the sound of it," he said.
He said though he spoke to Trump recently, it was about a naval hospital ship set to dock in the state and emergency medical sites that have been established in New York — not a quarantine.
"I don't even know what that means," Cuomo said about Trump's remarks.
In a Saturday press conference, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also shot down Trump's remarks about a quarantine. He said they spoke recently, but that idea wasn't raised.
"I literally saw the story as I was walking into this room. I’ve got no more color on it," he said. "There’s no question the greater New York metropolitan area is the number one hotspot in America right now. It’s not the only hotspot, but it’s the number one in terms of number of cases and until further notified we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing."
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut tweeted Saturday that he looks forward to speaking to Trump about a possible quarantine, saying that "confusion leads to panic."
He added that residents have already been ordered to stay home and travelers directed to self-quarantine.