Gov Cuomo in hotseat when study finds flights from COVID epi-center NYC seeded US outbreaks

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In late January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel from China to the United States after it became clear to him and his national security team that the COVID-19 outbreak was likely to worsen and become a major health threat.

Shortly thereafter, the president also restricted travel from Europe after several countries there became coronavirus hotspots.

But as turns out, according to a new study, it’s New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who should have acted to restrict travel from his state.

The New York Times, surprisingly, reported Thursday that researchers believe people who traveled from the state to other parts of the country were responsible for “seeding” various regions with more COVID-19 cases:

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 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.

“We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country,” Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, told the paper.

The paper also noted that “New York’s political leaders” “waited to take aggressive action” “during crucial weeks in March,” even as the president had been restricting travel from global hotspots and where the virus originated. Trump also contemplated a domestic travel ban, but he instead relied on state governors to act first and in their own best interests, which is fundamental federalism.

Naturally, Cuomo’s office sought to blame the president. Dani Lever, the communications director for Cuomo, claimed there was an “enormous failure by the federal government to leave New York and the East Coast exposed to flights from Europe, while at the same time instilling a false sense of security by telling the State of New York that we had no COVID cases throughout the entire month of February.”

How it is the federal government’s responsibility first and foremost — and not New York’s and, ultimately, Cuomo’s, responsibility — to track a deadly virus is not explained.

But of course, this isn’t New York’s only failure of leadership regarding the virus and its deadly effects.

Cuomo’s policy of requiring nursing homes to take in coronavirus patients — forcing them to put infected people in closer proximity with aged, infirm people known to be at greater risk of catching and dying from the disease — almost certainly has led to higher COVID-19 mortality in his state.

And he’s yet to be held responsible for that decision, though it clearly cost lives. But then, if the ‘mainstream media’ had one standard to hold the powerful to account instead of two, Cuomo would be taking a lot more flak right now for his decision than he is. (**Language warning)

Nursing home CEOs and managers pleaded with the Cuomo administration to consider alternatives to placing infected patients in eldercare homes — such as sending them, instead, to a little-used field hospital at the Javits Center.

“There is no way for us to prevent the spread under these conditions. Is there anything more we can do to protect our patients and staff?” Danny Tuchman, head of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Health Center, wrote to the NY Department of Health in an April 8 email.

It’s not as if Cuomo didn’t know the ramifications of his decision.

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said nursing home patients are among the most vulnerable, and his team was trying to help centers get supplies and staff,” The Wall Street Journal noted.

Regardless of what could have or should have happened, though, others the Times spoke to sought to ‘blame America first.’

“It means that we missed the boat early on, and the vast majority in this country is coming from domestic spread,” Kristian Andersen, a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, told the Times.

“I keep hearing that it’s somebody else’s fault. That’s not true. It’s not somebody else’s fault, it’s our own fault,” Andersen continued.

Not so; the reality is, this virus is China’s fault.


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Jon Dougherty


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