A day after federal health officials sounded the alarm over a potential coronavirus outbreak in America, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control must cooperate with local governments more to help combat the illness’ spread.
Not a single confirmed coronavirus case has occurred in New York City, but de Blasio repeated previous statements Wednesday indicating that it’s only a matter of time that the virus — which has sickened thousands and killed hundreds in China already — will eventually arrive here.
“It has been clear for weeks now that it’s not a question of if, but when coronavirus spreads to New York City,” de Blasio said. “It’s important for the federal government to accept that reality and is acting more aggressively.”
Back in January, the city’s Health Department enacted a proactive approach toward combating the coronavirus, from distributing 1.5 million surgical masks to establishing isolation for patients exhibiting symptoms of the illness. This month, the city responded to seven suspected coronavirus cases — all of which were cleared of having the illness.
Yet de Blasio said on Feb. 26 that — up until Tuesday’s statements by ranking officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control — the federal government hasn’t been nearly as proactive in its approach to coronavirus.
“Right now, the CDC posture is they are letting perfect be the enemy of good,” de Blasio said.
Citing one example, he noted that the CDC failed to utilize local labs for coronavirus testing. The city Health Department has had to send samples from potential coronavirus patients to the CDC’s Atlanta facility and waited days for the results to come back.
“We need the CDC to help us help ourselves and cities all over the country,” the mayor noted. “We have very advanced laboratory facilities as part of our Department of Health. These facilities are being underutilized by the CDC. There has been an honest effort between the CDC and the city/state to try and speed up our ability to do this local testing, but more can and should be done immediately.”
Local testing, de Blasio suggested, will allow for quicker test results and let medical professionals stay ahead of the crisis.
Furthermore, de Blasio wants the federal government to expand the coronavirus testing regiment for international travelers arriving New York City airports. The testing is focused on China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, but the illness has spread to other countries across the world.
To that end, the mayor called for expanded testing for travelers coming to New York City from Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.