Rhode Island police have begun stopping cars with New York license plates, and the National Guard will soon help officials conduct house-to-house searches to force anyone who has traveled from New York to enter isolation.
“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said, according to Bloomberg. “That risk is called New York City.”
Raimondo on Thursday issued an executive order enforceable by law mandating that anyone who has traveled to New York via any form of transportation must enter into a two-week self-quarantine.
The order applies to anyone who has been in New York within the past two weeks and will remain in place until at least April 25. The order, however, does not apply to public health, public safety or health care workers.
“While the governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Steven Brown, head of the ACLU in Rhode Island, said 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.”
Raimondo said that she understood the ACLU’s argument, but said that directive follows federal guidance and will be enforced respectfully. The White House had previously called for all people who leave New York to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“This is the law. This is not a suggestion. It’s going to save lives,” Raimondo said.
US coronavirus cases reach more than 101,000 as reported deaths hit new daily high
As the coronavirus has spread across the United States, killing hundreds of people and sickening tens of thousands more, comprehensive data on the extent of the outbreak has been difficult to come by.
More than two months have passed since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country and the US has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, overtaking China and Italy. The virus has hit New York and Washington especially hard but a new wave of coronavirus hot spots is already emerging.
Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans are seeing a rapid increase of cases and officials there and in many other cities say they don’t have enough medical resources.