On Saturday, President Donald Trump raised the possibility that he might impose a quarantine on the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to contain the spread of coronavirus. But his suggestion has not met a receptive audience from experts.
Conservative Naval War College professor Tom Nichols pointed out that Trump doesn’t have the authority to order such a quarantine in the first place. And former White House Press Secretary Joel Lockhart noted if it did happen, it would be stunningly authoritarian.
The President is talking about something he has no authority to do. The sooner we stop talking about it, the better. It’s the kind of thing meant to make Real America feel like he’s locking down those filthy East Coasters, but it’s not something he can actually do.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) March 28, 2020
We really shouldn’t laugh this off. Trump has been trying to gain extraordinary power since his first day in office. The jokes about staying past the second term are not jokes. His admiration of dictators is real. Watch him closely here. https://t.co/lOcWndpsgR
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) March 28, 2020
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner noted the absurdity of such a quarantine, given that Trump’s stated reason was to prevent New Yorkers from traveling to Florida — the only reason this is occurring is because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted shutting down public spaces, incentivizing people in states with tougher lockdowns to travel there.
Trump just said he is considering “ordering” a two-week “enforceable quarantine” of NY, NJ and CT to “restrict travel” from those states “because they are having problems down in Florida with New Yorkers going down & we don’t want that.“ Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) March 28, 2020
Other medical experts noted that such a quarantine wouldn’t even be effective at this point.
Leading in crisis is hard. It’s even HARDER when the President is inept. I admire the work she’s putting in for our state. And I’ve got her back.
— Abdul El-Sayed (@AbdulElSayed) March 28, 2020
Just a few days ago, Trump wanted to reopen America on Easter Sunday and have “packed churches all over our country.” Now he wants to quarantine NY, NJ, and CT. This erratic decision making is not only scary but ineffective. A quarantine now is too late to stop community spread.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 28, 2020
New York City Census Director Julie Menin suggested the president should give New York the health care equipment it needs, rather than trying to isolate its population.
And seriously instead of focusing on a likely to be unenforceable NY quarantine, why not just get us the 30,000 ventilators? That’s the kind of federal action we need.
— Julie Menin (@JulieMenin) March 28, 2020
And New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo — whom Trump had claimed he had discussed the idea with — emphatically denied any involvement in the president’s suggestion.
Cuomo denies speaking to Trump about possible NY quarantine, as President just claimed.
Cuomo: “I don’t even know what that means”
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) March 28, 2020
🚨🚨 WATCH: Gov. Cuomo DENIED speaking to TRUMP about a possible quarantine of New York. ‘I don’t even know…what that means,’ he said. ‘I don’t like the sound of it.’pic.twitter.com/Vn02KgSeF9
— Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) March 28, 2020