New Yorkers who travel to Florida, Texas, and other states with high COVID-19 infection rates will lose paid sick leave benefits (Katie Warren)
·4 min read
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference at LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B in New York City on June 10, 2020.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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New Yorkers who travel to states with high coronavirus infection rates will lose their COVID-19 sick leave benefits, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo signed an executive order on Friday saying that New York employees who voluntarily travel to a state with a positive test rate higher than 10% will no longer be eligible for benefits from New York's COVID-19 paid sick leave law. The order does not apply to people who are traveling for work.

"If we are going to maintain the progress we've seen, we need everyone to take personal responsibility — that's why I'm issuing an executive order that says any New York employee who voluntarily travels to a high-risk state will not be eligible for the COVID protections we created under paid sick leave," Cuomo said in a statement.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University last updated on June 28, nine states currently have positive test rates greater than 10%: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas.

In March, Cuomo expanded paid sick leave benefits for New York employees who were quarantined as a result of the coronavirus or who had to care for a family member infected with COVID-19.

The new law said that employers with more than 100 employees had to provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the quarantine's duration. Employers with 11 to 99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million had to provide at least five days of paid sick leave as well as job protection.

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A planes takes off with New York City as a backdrop at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in December 2019.

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In addition to New Yorkers losing these COVID-19 paid sick leave benefits after visiting high-risk states, any travelers arriving from states where the virus is surging have been ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Earlier in the week, Cuomo, along with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, implemented a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from high-risk states based on the same 10% positivity rate threshold. Those who are found to have broken the self-quarantine can be fined more than $2,000, Cuomo said.

As Business Insider's Jake Lahut reported, governors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have touted their states' lower numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations after seeing the most severe outbreaks in the US.

COVID-19 cases are surging across the US

New York is experiencing its lowest numbers of coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic in March. On Saturday, less than 1% of tests administered came back positive.

However, cases are rising in 36 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, CNN reported. Only two states — Connecticut and Rhode Island — are seeing their cases decline, while numbers for new cases remain steady in many other states, including New York. Some states, such as Texas, are pausing their reopenings or rolling back openings of bars and restaurants.

The US just reached an all-time high for daily new cases, with more than 40,000 new cases reported on Friday, per data from Johns Hopkins University. Total US cases now exceed 2.5 million.

On Friday, Cuomo said that New York was offering assistance to states with high COVID-19 infection rates like Texas, Florida, and Arizona.

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