‘They failed’: Cuomo blasts Trump response to COVID-19 over damning CDC report

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Thousands of New Yorkers were infected with a strain of COVID-19 from Europe long before President Trump banned travel from the continent to the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus has claimed more than 20,000 lives in New York state. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Governor Andrew Cuomo described a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report released Thursday on the COVID-19 outbreak in New York as a “stunning admission of failure” by the federal government.

The CDC report confirmed something that Cuomo had been saying for weeks — that COVID-19 had arrived in New York from Europe weeks before President Trump issued a travel ban in March, infecting thousands in the process.

Trump had banned flights from China, where the COVID-19 virus originated, back on Feb. 2, nearly six weeks before he issued the European travel ban on March 13. But during that period of time, COVID-19 had spread from China to Europe, mutating along the way into a more potent, more communicable disease.

New Yorkers became infected, Cuomo said, by travelers from Europe who acquired the virus and then spread it soon after arriving stateside.

“Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 had already occurred in NYC,” according to the July 16 CDC report.

Between Feb. 2 and March 13, the governor said, more than 3,900 flights arrived from Europe at John F. Kennedy International and Newark-Liberty Airports. Trump banned flights from Europe only after the proverbial horse was out of the barn, according to Cuomo, and the virus had been allowed to circulate through the New York metropolitan area and beyond.

“They failed, and the virus came to New York, and Americans died because of government failure. Period,” Cuomo said. “These are facts. They missed the science. Government failed in its job, and they are still failing. They still are not following the science. And the government is still not competent, and that is the increase we’re seeing all across the country.”

Cuomo referred to the incredible spikes in COVID-19 across much of the country, and he fears that New York will suffer a second wave of cases. However, this second wave will likely be a result of New Yorkers getting the virus from other states, rather than the virus mutating again and spreading naturally.

“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,” the governor suggested. “It will have been a double-barreled shotgun of federal incompetence.”

While urging Trump again to listen to his own health officials and take action to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo suggested that there’s one virus worse than coronavirus which the nation is battling: “American division and federal incompetence.”

“You know what it takes to beat community spread? Community,” Cuomo said, “coming together, protecting one another, wearing masks, being smart. That’s how you defeat community spread, by community.”