After months of criticizing the federal government for issuing a travel ban for Chinese residents while COVID-19 cases were actually pouring into the New York metro area from Europe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been vindicated.
Now, the government's main agency handling the crisis agrees with that assessment.
A new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that by the time the federal government placed travel restrictions on Europe, it was already too late, and the virus had taken a stranglehold in the region.
The federal government restricted travel from China early in February, but waited until mid-March, at which point millions of travelers had already gone through airports in the tristate area, to restrict travel from Europe, whose travelers were bringing the virus with them.
“The federal government didn’t do the European travel ban until March 16," Cuomo previously said, "so between January, February, March, how many flights flew into JFK and how many people came here? Three million.
“That’s why New York had the highest infection rate … it had nothing to do with New Yorkers or the blue states,” he continued. “It’s because we were misled, we were misinformed, and the virus was coming from Europe, not from China like initially thought.”
The CDC report found that testing was limited, namely in densely populated New York City, which allowed the unabated spread of the virus before the country realized the threat the virus brought to the country.
Data collected by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene between Sunday, March 1, and Friday, March 20, found that within a week, there was “sustained community transmission” of the virus in Manhattan.
Robert Redfield, the Director for the CDC said "the extensive travel from Europe, once Europe was having outbreaks, really accelerated our importations and the rapid spread. I think the timing of our travel alerts should have been earlier."
According to the CDC, the department examined specimens taken from people who went to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms. Of the 544 subjects tested, 36, (6.6 percent), were positive for COVID-19.
“Mount Sinai issued a report earlier that found the virus that came to New York had come from Europe and not from China,” Cuomo said during a conference call on Thursday, July 16. “They did that by studying the genetic makeup of the virus, and when the virus had gone from China to Europe, the virus mutated in Europe, and the viral strain that came to New York was from Europe.
“The report they just put up says, that although travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission had already occurred in New York.”
Cuomo went on to take another shot at President Donald Trump and his administration for their passive handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier story - COVID-19: Cuomo Draws Criticism For 'Crowing' About Pandemic Progress On TV Shows
“The federal officials, the federal government just missed it,” Cuomo said. “The President likes to talk about his travel ban that was effective. His own CDC says the travel ban was too late.
“The President loves to talk about his China travel ban, Feb. 2. By the time the President did the China travel ban it was too late because the virus had left China and went to Europe,” Cuomo continued.
“The President does a travel ban from some countries in Europe in mid-March. That's too late also says the CDC. By the time they did the travel ban from Europe on March 13, it was too late. The virus was in New York; it had been in New York for weeks.”
Cuomo said that between the China travel ban and European travel ban, 2,758 flights landed at John F. Kennedy Airport and 1,200 in Newark.
“The virus came from Europe. They missed it,” Cuomo reiterated. It was circulating in New York before they ever figured it out. By the time they did the Europe travel ban, it was too late.
“The horse was out of the barn and then they were closing the barn door, by federal officials. So, no politics, no - these are facts.”
The governor cautioned that a second wave is likely, though it may not take the shape that was originally expected when it hits.
“The second wave is not going to be a mutated virus,” Cuomo said.
“The second wave is going to be a rebound of COVID from the other states that now got infected transmitting it back to New York, so New York will have been failed by the federal government once, in the virus coming to New York undetected from Europe, and then the governmental incompetence is going to hurt New York a second time when the virus was allowed to increase in other states and then come back to New York,” Cuomo added. “It will have been a double-barrel shotgun of federal incompetence.