By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas joined other states Thursday in imposing quarantines on travelers from the New York area, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., and put similar restrictions on people arriving from nearby New Orleans as the number of cases there surges dramatically.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the moves as Texas surpassed 1,400 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 18 related deaths. He said 100 Texas patients were hospitalized and that the state had added about 3,000 beds in recent days in preparation for the worst ahead.
By requiring anyone arriving by plane from New Orleans and the New York area — including New Jersey and Connecticut — to quarantine for 14 days, Texas became the latest state to race to isolate travelers coming from places where the coronavirus crisis is most severe. Governors in Florida and Maryland announced similar restrictions this week pertaining to New York.
New Orleans is also becoming a major center of COVID-19 worries, as the number of cases Thursday surpassed 2,300 and deaths climbed to 86.
Abbott said those who don’t comply with the quarantine risk jail time, adding that state troopers would conduct visits to make sure people were staying put.
And while President Donald Trump has set Easter, April 12, as a goal for reopening businesses and getting the U.S. economy back on track, Abbott said it was too early to tell what course Texas would take. He has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but all of Texas’ biggest cities are under such restrictions.
“The greatest probable pathway is that it won’t be at one time,” Abbott said. “Maybe we allow certain workers to go back to work, and other workers to go back to work, and measure, monitor the health status along the way. But it’s way too early to tell right now.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
The uptick of cases in Texas also continued spreading through jails. Dallas County officials said five inmates had tested positive, including one who had shared pod with about 50 other inmates and had been in the jail since December.
Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown said that the five inmates who showed symptoms had been quarantined, as had those in the pod who weren’t showing symptoms.