White House Request for Self-Quarantine by Anyone Who Has Been in NYC Recently

March 26th, 2020 | Community Association Law Blog, News

Eric F. Frizzell, Esq.

As you probably have heard, at the White House daily briefing on Tuesday afternoon, March 24, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, stated that everybody who has been in New York in the last few days and leaves should be self-quarantining for 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others. Her verbatim statement (which is not entirely clear regarding whether her recommendation applies to people who have been in New York City only or also the “New York metro area”) is follows:

“Finally, and I know Dr. Fauci will talk about this further, we remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area. About 56 percent of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area, and 60 percent of all the new cases are coming out of the metro New York area, and 31 percent of the people succumbing to this disease.

It means, because they still are at the 31 percent mortality compared to the other regions of the country, that we can have a huge impact if we unite together. This means, as in all places, they have to be following the presidential guidelines that were put out eight or nine days ago. And this will be critical.

But to everyone who has left New York over the last few days: Because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York. And I think, like Governor DeSantis has put out today, everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to far, far reaches of Long Island.

We are starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city. So this will be very critical that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over these next 14 days to make sure they don’t pass the virus to others, based on the time that they left New York.

So if they already are 4 days out, then it’s just 10 more days. So I thank you if you help get that message out to others.”

Dr. Birx’s statement is a recommendation. It has not been issued as part of an order by the White House or the State of New Jersey.

Based on her statement, your community association may wish to consider implementing the following steps:

1. Ask all visitors and guests to your building whether they have been in any of New York City’s five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island – in the past 14 days. If you are currently requiring every visitor/guest to complete a written questionnaire, as our law firm has previously recommended, you may wish to consider adding the following questions to it and barring any visitor or guest who answers “yes” to either question:

— Have you been in New York City – Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island – at any time in the past 14 days?

— Have you taken mass transit – subway, bus, train, taxi, Uber, Lyft, or other driving service – anywhere in New York City at any time in the past 14 days?

If their answer is “yes” to either question, you could deny them entry into your building except (A) as to question 1, if they were solely driving through New York City in their own vehicle on the way to another location, such as driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway to get from New Jersey to Connecticut or other areas outside of NYC, and did not get out of their vehicle while in the City, there does not appear to be any need to bar them; or (B) they are emergency services personnel or a resident’s health care provider. Cooks, personal housekeepers, nannies, and similar personnel would be denied entry if they answer “yes”.

This heightened screening, if you decide to implement it, may be a major inconvenience to some of your residents, but hopefully they will understand the greater need of protecting the health of everyone in your building, including their health and that of their family.

If your community does not have front desk or concierge staff to screen people who enter your building(s), you may wish to (1) post a notice on each entry door asking visitors who have been in NYC in the last 14 days to not enter the building, and (2) send a notice to residents that asks them to screen their visitors and guests and to instruct any of them who have been in NYC to not visit until they have self-quarantined for 14 days.

Again, Dr. Birx’s request that everyone from New York City self-quarantine for 14 days after leaving NYC has not yet been made a formal order by the federal or State of New Jersey governments, but is a recommendation, so implementing it is not legally mandatory although it would be quite prudent given the current conditions.

2. Send a notice to all residents that advises them that in accordance with the recommendation by Dr. Birx, the Association asks them to voluntarily self-quarantine in their unit until 14 days have passed from the last day they were in New York City and/or utilized mass transit. The notice can say:

“Dear Resident:

As you may know, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, announced at the White House’s daily press conference on Tuesday afternoon, March 26, that anyone who has been in New York City should self-quarantine for 14 days. Therefore, if you have been in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Staten Island in the past 14 days, we ask that you immediately self-quarantine in your unit and remain self-quarantined until 14 days have passed from the last day you were in New York City. If you begin to exhibit any signs of the coronavirus, COVID-19, during that period – coughing, fever, shortness of breath – we ask that you immediately contact your doctor for instructions and that you extend your period of self-quarantine in accordance with any instructions you receive from your doctor. Please let Management know if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 so that the Board and Management are aware of your condition and can provide appropriate assistance. We will not disclose your identity to any other residents.“

Please let us know if you have any questions. Stay safe. Eric.