As Coloradans sit home to curtail the spread of COVID-19, planes from New York land at Denver International Airport. New Yorkers step into Ubers, cabs, trains, busses, or rental cars and begin wandering our state.
Finding record-low virus-era airline fares, they escape corona central and enjoy roads and highways devoid of pre-virus congestion. They experience Colorado’s great outdoors as state residents hunker down. As they interact with airport employees, gas station attendants, drivers and people at grocery stores, they pose a disproportionate risk of spreading the virus.
Hearing growing concerns from our readers, we asked Gov. Jared Polis Monday if he plans to address flights from New York.
“The virus is already in Colorado and spreading,” the governor texted. “And while we certainly hope that anyone who has it stays away, what’s even more important is that Coloradans stay at home whenever possible to squash the virus, save lives, and minimize economic disruption.”
A letter from a reader argues for keeping people out: “Colorado is miles away from the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Canadian Border, and the Mexican border.” It’s a natural geographic quarantine disrupted by human migration.
A column in today’s editorial section by Denver attorney and radio host Dan Caplis asks why the governor has not taken action to protect Colorado from New York. He suggests a 14-day quarantine for visiting New Yorkers.
Most Coloradans love New Yorkers and welcome them during ordinary times. The U.S. Census Bureau counts 135,249 Coloradans who have moved here from New York.
The concern with New York City and surrounding areas relates only to the region’s temporary but tragically high number of coronavirus cases and deaths. New York is accurately considered our country's Wuhan, China, in terms of the virus. Wuhan has more than 11 million residents; New York has 8.6 million — 3 million more than all of Colorado. Both cities are population dense, making social distancing a near impossibility. Each comprises the epicenter of the coronavirus in its respective country.
Following the advice of scientists at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, President Donald Trump restricted travel from China on Jan. 31. In a tweet the next day, former Vice President Joe Biden said “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering…”
The science is clear, Mr. Biden. COVID-19 travels with humans, finding new victims without concern for nationality or race. That’s why Trump, Polis, and nearly all other political leaders want people to stay put. If humans don’t travel the virus won’t travel.
Polis and Trump are taking unprecedented measures to confront the pandemic. Polis deserves great credit for issuing a relatively early stay-at-home order. He deserves accolades for quickly reducing regulations, therefore lowering barriers to health care and easing burdens to businesses struggling to survive.
A lack of restrictions on travel to Colorado — especially from New York and other viral hot spots — represents the only conspicuous gap in the Polis response
A week ago Tuesday, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated a 14-day quarantine of anyone arriving from metropolitan New York City. Hawaii's Democratic governor David Ige told visitors from everywhere to stay away for at least 30 days. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy told everyone arriving in Alaska — including residents returning from out-of-state trips — to quarantine for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.
Democratic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has the state’s National Guard going door-to-door looking for visitors from New York and ordering them to quarantine.
Gov. Polis clearly loves Colorado and wants what’s best for the people he works for. He hopes people with COVID-19 stay away, but he has not transformed the wish into an order.
The governor should consider doing just that. Tell people from New York and other high-risk areas to stay away or live under quarantine. Consider Ige's approach and discourage all travel into our state.
Coloradans are making essential and difficult sacrifices to curtail the spread of a deadly disease. Outsiders, free of stay-at-home orders, should not undermine our efforts.