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Order for new arrivals to quarantine rife with complexity

Heat waves ripple across the tarmac at Sky Harbor International Airport as downtown Phoenix stands in the background as an airplane lands, Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Phoenix. The Phoenix City Council is mulling a vote to raise fees charged ride-hailing companies to $4 per trip to and from the airport. Council members Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 are to decide on the proposal to increase the current fee from $2.66 per pickup. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Heat waves ripple across the tarmac at Sky Harbor International Airport as downtown Phoenix stands in the background as an airplane lands, Tuesday, June 20, 2017 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Have friends flying in from Fort Worth? Roanoke Va.? Or even Lesterville, S.D.?

Well, they may not be able to come to your house to visit.

They live in areas identified as having “substantial community spread” of COVID-19. And that means that, effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 9, they were subject to a new order by Gov. Doug Ducey to self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive.

You can, however, probably go golfing with them if that’s what you enjoy.

Ducey’s directive does allow people to leave their area of self-quarantine for “essential services.” And under an earlier gubernatorial order, that includes outdoor activities like golf.

But they can’t stay with you, as the order says those affected “shall refrain from isolating or self-quarantining with family members or friends who did not travel.”

In describing his order on Tuesday, the governor specifically mentioned anyone flying in from Connecticut, New Jersey or New York. And gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak said that, based on the designations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that means anyone from anywhere in those three states, not just those coming from the New York City area.

But Ducey’s order also says it applies to anyone from an area with “significant community spread.”

Here’s where it gets even more complex.

The CDC defines significant community spread as “large scale community transmission, health care staffing significantly impacted (and) multiple cases within communal settings.” And officials in multiple communities, like New Orleans, San Antonio and even Yankton County in South Dakota — where Lesterville is located — have said they have substantial community spread.

But other than Ducey’s mention of the tri-state area, his order does not list other specific communities. Instead it tasks the Department of Health Services to come up with a list and put it on its web site.

Agency spokesman Chris Minnick said any expansion of the list will be considered as new information arrives.

There are other complicating factors.

Ptak said that the controlling issue over who should self-quarantine is based not on where the person normally lives but instead on the arriving flight.

Put simply, someone from Boston flying to Arizona who connects at JFK — or even if the flight stops there — would fall under the governor’s order. But passengers on a direct flight from Boston would be free to come and go as they want, subject to Ducey’s more general stay-at-home directives that apply to everyone in Arizona.

But the situation is different for places like Tucson International Airport which has no nonstop flights from the New York area.

Ptak said the quarantine order would apply to those who boarded in New York but not anyone else who came on board at an interim stop, even if they had been sitting next to someone from the first leg of the flight.

Minnick said that the focus for now is on Southwest Airlines which is operating the only nonstop flights out of the New York area.

He said that the state is working with the airline to send messages to all Arizona-bound travelers at least four days ahead of their travel, informing them of the self-quarantine requirement. Minnick also said that those arriving at Arizona airports from flights originating in the New York area will get materials telling them what they are required to do.

And what of those driving to Arizona or coming by train?

“The order is focused on airports because we have the ability to reach travelers that we know are arriving from these specific states of origin,” Ptak said.

But he noted that the CDC last month advised residents of the three listed states to refrain from non-essential travel, with no reference to mode of transportation.

“We would encourage anyone traveling to Arizona from one of those states to quarantine for 14 days,” Ptak said.

And just because the state is ordering people to quarantine themselves doesn’t mean Arizona taxpayers are on the financial hook.

Ducey’s order says those affected are responsible for all costs related to the isolation or quarantine, including transportation, lodging, food, medical care and “any other expenses to sustain the person” during the period.

There are exceptions to Ducey’s order.

It does not apply to airline employees or military personnel. Also not subject to the self-quarantine order are those arriving in Arizona “in direct response to COVID-19” to aid in healthcare and public health operations, as well as essential governmental or infrastructure functions.

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