A group of Republican state lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, R-Caledonia, and state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide an exemption for workers who live in Pennsylvania, but work in New York from potentially being included in the governor’s COVID-19 travel advisory that covers more than 30 states.
Pennsylvania was not subject to the travel advisory as of Tuesday, according to the governor’s website.
Cuomo’s travel advisory applies to any person traveling to New York from states with a significant community spread of COVID-19 and requires them to quarantine for 14 days.
The state lawmakers – who also include Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats; Sen. Fred Akshar, R-Endwell; Assemblyman Chris Friend, R-Big Flats; Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda; and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning – have sent a letter to Cuomo warning that the inclusion of neighboring state workers in the required travel advisory quarantine would be devastating to local economies across the Southern Tier region.
Area business leaders initially brought the concern to the lawmakers’ attention. Representatives of the Chemung County and Greater Corning Area chambers of commerce noted that a significant portion of the Southern Tier workforce resides in Pennsylvania. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 Pennsylvania residents are employed by businesses located across the border in Chemung County alone. Overall, about 9,500 Pennsylvania residents work within the Southern Tier region. Likewise, more than 6,300 residents of the Southern Tier work in Pennsylvania.
In the Aug. 3 letter to Cuomo, the regional legislators wrote, “Currently, the travel advisory is one of your administration’s primary efforts to contain the pandemic and protect the positive trajectory that New York State and our local regions have achieved in controlling its spread. While we understand the need for caution behind the advisory and its accompanying quarantine requirement, we also strongly urge you to take into full consideration the potentially severe economic consequences for regions like ours that border another state, in this case Pennsylvania, where there is a daily influx of out-of-state workers essential to our local economies.”
The letter outlines a worst-case scenario where, for example, Pennsylvania is added to the Cuomo travel advisory largely because of coronavirus spikes in large cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh while counties bordering New York State remain stable.
“Consequently, we appreciate this opportunity to urge you to be pro-active on this consideration and, anticipating a worst-case scenario, immediately work to clarify this concern for employers and workers and, especially, devise protocols that will continue to accommodate across-the-border employment,” the legislators wrote. “In fact, we have read the recent reports that you have provided an exemption from the travel advisory/quarantine for New Jersey residents and believe that residents and workers from New York’s other border states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Vermont should be provided a similar exemption.”
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont are not on the current list of quarantine states.
The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
States currently subjected to the quarantine are: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.