Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the UK’s decision to allow travelers to fly into New York City without being tested for a mutated strain of COVID-19, but a study earlier this year showed his failure to limit travel from his own state early in the pandemic led to a viral “seeding” of the United States.
“Right now, this variant in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK” International Airport, the Democrat said in a call with reporters Sunday, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the new strain could be as much as 70 percent more transmittable.
“Right now. Today,” Cuomo complained, as he called on the federal government to require testing of travelers from the United Kingdom “at a minimum,” if not ban them from entering the U.S. altogether.
“Literally six flights a day. And all it takes is one person,” he continued.
U.S. officials said they are looking “very carefully” into the mutation as Canada and some European countries have already issued travel bans from the UK. However, the Trump administration has also said that banning travel from the country wasn’t a consideration at this point.
The chief adviser to the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine development and distribution program, Moncef Slaoui, told CNN American officials “don’t know yet” if the mutation is currently inside the U.S.
“We are, of course… looking very carefully into this,” Slaoui said, the Daily Mail reported. “This particular variant in the UK, I think, is very unlikely to have escaped the vaccine immunity.”
“I don’t think there’s any reason for alarm right now,” added Adm. Brett Giroir, a pediatrician a four-star officer in the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and assistant secretary for health.
But that’s not what Cuomo wanted to hear.
“We have about six flights a day coming in from the UK. And we have done absolutely nothing,” he railed to reporters, adding that New York has another 9,957 cases.
“To me, this is reprehensible, because this is what happens in the spring,” he continued, blaming the spread of the virus to New York on Europe rather on China, where it originated.
“Doing nothing is negligent. It’s grossly negligent. How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn?” Cuomo fumed.
But in May, researchers determined that Cuomo’s refusal to ban travel from his state, where COVID-19 was raging, to the rest of the country was primarily responsible for its nationwide spread.
“We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country,” Yale School of Public Health epidemiologist Nathan Grubaugh told The New York Times.
“New York City’s coronavirus outbreak grew so large by early March that the city became the primary source of new infections in the United States, new research reveals, as thousands of infected people traveled from the city and seeded outbreaks around the country,” the Times reported.
“The research indicates that a wave of infections swept from New York City through much of the country before the city began setting social distancing limits to stop the growth. That helped to fuel outbreaks in Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and as far away as the West Coast,” the paper added.
The paper also noted that “New York’s political leaders” “waited to take aggressive action” “during crucial weeks in March,” though President Trump had, early on, restricted travel into the U.S. from global hotspots including Europe and China.
Trump also briefly contemplated a domestic travel ban, but ultimately opted to let governors make travel decisions they felt were in their state’s best interests.
Cuomo was also blasted for his decision to require nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, which many believe bolstered death rates in those facilities.
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