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How is NYS travel tracking visitors from problem COVID-19 states?

NYSDOH wants air passengers from Covid hotspots to submit questionnaire at the airport
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Posted at 12:46 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-03 09:42:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — Governor Cuomo announced earlier this week that individuals coming from 16 states where Covid-19 is surging must quarantine for 14 days. The Governor said "New York is taking action to maintain the precarious safety of its phased, data-driven reopening."

Those states (as of July 2) include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

How is New York State tracking those travelers?

7 Eyewitness News found workers for the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) setup inside the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. They are asking travelers arriving in Buffalo to voluntarily fill out a form from the NYS Department of Health if they have been in any of the Covid-problem states during the last 14 days for more than 24 hours. The forms also ask if travelers are having any symptoms of Covid-19.

Essential workers must state whether they are in NYS for a short (less than 12 hours), medium (less than 36 hours), or long term (greater than 36 hours).

The form says anyone required to quarantine for 14 days must have a suitable dwelling, or find appropriate accommodations at their own cost.

A spokesperson for NYSDOH sent the following information:

"The forms are being distributed to passengers traveling from designated states on the list [coronavirus.health.ny.gov]. People identified from the questionnaires as requiring quarantine will be contacted by the local health department and/or contact tracers for follow-up."

-For more information, see: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory [coronavirus.health.ny.gov]

You can view the forms below:

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7 Eyewitness News has also heard community concerns that the cameras used for cashless tolling (EZPass) on the NYS Thruway are being used to track out-of-state license plates.

A spokesperson for the NYS Thruway Authority told reporter Ed Reilly that is "completely false" and that normal tolling procedures are in place.

New York State Police said, "it is not tracking out-of-state plates or travelers." Troopers are only allowed to pull over a vehicle for a violation of the vehicle & traffic law, or another law enforcement purpose.

NYS Senator Robert Ortt (R-62nd Senate District) told Reporter Ed Reilly that he has a lot of concerns about what is happening at the airport. "I think this is an incredible invasion of privacy," said Ortt.

The state senator believes Governor Cuomo's Executive Orders are being done in a "non-transparent, closed-door way." Ortt is pushing for the NYS Legislature to take a more active role; something that could be done because the legislature has the authority to override the Governor's emergency orders.