When the Donald Trump administration imposed travel restrictions from Europe to the United States at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the virus was widely circulating in New York, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A month after the president imposed a travel ban from China on February 2, a virus strain that looked more like Europe infected New Yorkers. In mid-March, community transmission was widespread, reports the CDC.
“The virus came to New York and the Americans died because of the failure of the government,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “They missed science. “
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The study collected samples from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from March 1 to 20. On March 8, the ministry announced that it had detected community transmission of the virus.
Of the 544 samples that the CDC studied in patients with flu-like illnesses who tested negative for influenza, 36 tested positive for Covid-19 and “the positive genetically sequenced samples most closely resembled sequences circulating in Europe, “according to the report.
The Trump administration put restrictions on European travel on March 13. The first strain detected dates back to March 2.
By April, New York had become the global epicenter of the virus. More than 32,000 patients in the state have died since the start of the epidemic, far more than anywhere else in the United States.
“No sentinel sequences were directly linked to the sequences in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated,” the report said.
The CDC said the results were “unexpected” given the population of Chinese speakers living in the areas where samples were found.
“Analysis of the sequence suggests rather likely introductions of [Covid-19] from Europe, other United States and local introductions from New York, “said the report. While travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, at the time European restrictions were implemented, the import and community transmission of [Covid-19] had already taken place in [New York City]. »
Trump has often claimed that the travel ban to China “saved” up to “millions of lives” while his administration was criticized for its slow and dismissive response to what has become a massive public health crisis in the days and weeks that followed. .
In the United States, more than 138,000 people have died from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.5 million people have been infected.
The CDC report echoes similar findings from a study on Mount Sinai in April which determined that the first confirmed cases of New York City virus were of European origin.
As the number of deaths and the rate of infections in New York City have slowed months after the first cases were discovered, the rest of the United States is beginning to see disturbing influxes of new cases and increasing hospitalizations.
“There will be a second wave,” said Governor Cuomo. “It’s going to be a rebound … from other states that have been infected, broadcasting it to New York. “