Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that the world was too slow to detect the coronavirus, understand how dire the threat was and devise strategies to protect people.
“I don’t even think our experts were ready for it. You know, in retrospect it seems so simple, right? China has a virus last November, last December. The virus can get on a plane, go to Europe, come to New York or anywhere in 24 hours,” Cuomo said during a CNN town hall on the pandemic, which has to date killed more than 50,000 Americans.
“What made anyone think it was going to stay in China last November or last December? And then we’re taking actions in March. What happened to January and February?”
He then talked about how President Trump was right to question the World Health Organization — but said a host of other health organizations and experts should also have been on the job to detect such threats.
“The president has talked — spoke about the World Health Organization and what they should have done, but I think we have to take a hard look. Where were the experts, the organizations, the international watchdogs who should be watching for something like this?” he asked.
“Because obviously we missed it. March, we’re taking actions in March. I have the first case in march, but the data is now saying it may have been here in January, it may have been here in February. And if you look at the infection rate of 20 percent in New York, it makes it hard to believe that this has just been a few weeks.
Cuomo was also ambivalent about the results of a trial of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which had ben provided to the state by the federal government, and which Trump had pushed for general use for coronavirus.
“We had a number of hospitals in New York that had been testing hydroxychloroquine. They gave it to several hundred patients. They compiled preliminary data. They sent it through the state to the FDA,” Cuomo said, referring to the Food and Drug Administration.
“The FDA has the data. I think from the review that I heard basically it was not seen as a positive, not seen as a negative and didn’t really have much of an effect on the recovery rate. But I’m not a doctor, so I’m really not qualified to review the data.”
The governor also said that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would need hundreds of thousands of tracers to track the spread of the virus in the hard hit tri-state area.
“You’re going to need an army of tracers, literally thousands of people who do this. That has to be ramped up. It’s never been done before,” he said.
Cuomo had named former Mayor Mike Bloomberg to head up that effort.