New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the so-called U.K. variant of coronavirus is a “game-changer” as he railed against federal health officials for not implementing a travel ban or requiring testing for travelers coming from the U.K.
“Now there’s a second strain and it came from the U.K., again,” he said during a press conference Tuesday. “Secretary Azar, Dr. Redfield, how can you explain to the American people your lack of action, your negligence, your irresponsibility – 140 countries banned people from the U.K. and you did nothing.
“You know there are viral strains in other countries now – you know that is a fact – why wouldn’t you mandate testing, how many times do you have to learn the same lesson over and over, what happened to competent leadership in government?”
Cuomo’s fiery charges come a day after he threatened to fine hospitals in New York who were not moving quickly enough to distribute vaccine allocations and after the state announced it had detected its first case of the U.K. variant in a Saratoga man in his 60s.
“Anyone who was exposed or anyone who was exposed to someone who was exposed, please contact us,” Cuomo urged. “There is nothing to be ashamed of, this is a virus – it travels – but we have to know. Containment is vitally important here – this is a virus we have to be extra careful with.”
Cuomo said experts have estimated that the new variant may overtake the original strain in a matter of weeks and that the high rate of transmissibility adds to the urgency needed in vaccine distribution.
“We are in a foot race right now between the vaccine implementation versus the infection rate, and hospitalization capacity,” he said. “The U.K. strain changes the whole foot race because the U.K. strain, the rate of transmission goes way up, the rate of infection goes way up, and it’s no longer the race that we were running.”