New York is the source of hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases across the United States, according to new research.
Choices made by local and state officials in New York exacerbated the spread of the disease across the United States, according to The New York Times. Researchers identified separate strains of the coronavirus associated with New York and Washington state and tracked the spread of each through patients’ travel histories and models. The majority of positive cases across the U.S. were from the New York strain.
“We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country,” Yale School of Public Health epidemiologist Nathan Grubaugh told the Times.
Experts working on the project were largely in agreement that, despite a ban on immigration from China on January 31 and restrictions on travel from Europe on March 13, a significant number of people were infected early in the U.S. and interstate travel seeded the virus all over the country.
“It means that we missed the boat early on, and the vast majority in this country is coming from domestic spread,” Scripps Research Institute professor Kristian Andersen 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.”
The New York strain was identified in 50% of patients tested in California and Oregon. In Washington, another hotspot for the virus, 42% of tested coronavirus patients carried the New York markers. In the West, 89% of cases in Utah and 98% of cases in Idaho were sourced back to New York. In Louisiana, every patient tested carried the New York strain.
New York officials have accused President Trump and the federal government of not acting swiftly enough to combat the virus, leaving New Yorkers vulnerable. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did little to slow the spread of the disease in the early days of March, however.
“We have the best healthcare system in the world here. And excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers, I speak for the mayor also on this one, we think we have the best healthcare system on the planet right here in New York,” Cuomo said in a March 2 press conference.
“Everybody is doing exactly what we need to do. We have been ahead of this from day one. From day one. It was a big break when the federal government allowed us to do our own testing because now we are actually in control of the systems ourselves,” Cuomo added.
The governor later shut down the state on March 22 ordering all businesses deemed nonessential to shut down and their workers to stay at home. Over six weeks later on Wednesday, New York City began routinely sanitizing the public metro system, stopping train service overnight for the first time ever for cleaning crews.
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