Cuomo tells New York hospitals to start testing for new mutant strain of COVID

Cuomo (pictured on Monday) said he had told NY hospitals to start testing for the new mutant strain

Cuomo (pictured on Monday) said he had told NY hospitals to start testing for the new mutant strain

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is telling hospitals to start testing for the new mutant strain of COVID that has been identified in the UK, Europe and Australia so that the US can ‘isolate it immediately’. 

Speaking on a call with reporters on Tuesday, Cuomo said he’d told hospital systems across the state to start performing the ‘complex’ test that identifies the strain. 

The new mutant strain is said to be 70 times more infectious than what has been seen before. It has sent the UK into panic mode and has prompted more than 40 countries to cut off flights from Britain. 

No cases of it have been identified in the US yet but Dr. Anthony Fauci and other science experts say it is only a matter of time and is probably already here. 

Cuomo agreed with them on Tuesday and said he wanted to weed it out. 

‘Dr Fauci said something that is frightening. He thinks the variant is already here. I’ve asked hospitals all across our state to test for the variant specifically. 

‘If it’s here, we want to know it and isolate it immediately. Let’s learn from the spring. 

Outside the UK, cases of the new strain have already been identified in Denmark, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Australia and Italy, with experts saying it is probably already in the US too

Outside the UK, cases of the new strain have already been identified in Denmark, Gibraltar, the Netherlands, Australia and Italy, with experts saying it is probably already in the US too 

A woman is getting her coronavirus test as people line up for free COVID-19 test ahead of Thanksgiving in Queens of New York City

A woman is getting her coronavirus test as people line up for free COVID-19 test ahead of Thanksgiving in Queens of New York City

‘Fauci says he thinks it’s here. If it’s here, where? Where is it?’ Cuomo said. 

WHAT THE AIRLINES ARE DOING

British Airways

Mandatory COVID-19 tests on all flights to NYC starting December 22.

No mandatory tests on all other flights. The airline also flies to LA, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Miami

Delta and Virgin 

Mandatory tests on all flights to the US, starting with NYC and Atlanta from December 24. 

Travelers will be required to take a LAMP or PCR test up to 72 hours prior to departure adding another layer of safety when they travel. 

The airline also operates flights to Orlando and one-stop routes to other US cities 

They are telling people with flights booked to monitor their website for information.  

United Airlines

No mandatory COVID-19 tests on any flights. 

Twice daily flights from London to the US scheduled for 2021 

American Airlines 

Partner with BA. No mandatory tests on flights

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New York’s COVID numbers are the third best in the country after Hawaii and Vermont. 

The statewide positivity rate is 5.89 percent and it varies by region; Mohawk Valley is higher than 8 percent but New York City is just over 4 percent. 

Manhattan’s test positivity rate is 2.75 compared to Staten Island’s which is more than 5 percent. 

Despite the low rates, Cuomo has ended all indoor dining across NYC which brings the restaurant industry to its knees. He has said a total shutdown is however avoidable. 

He has also persuaded three airlines – Delta, British Airways and Virgin – to mandate COVID tests for passengers coming to the UK. 

On Monday, the three airlines agreed to his request. He fumed again on Tuesday that the federal government has done nothing. 

‘I have been talking to people in the federal government. First, it’s a transition point and the federal officials I have spoken to are aware of it. 

‘There are various levels of concern. They, frankly, have various levels of engagement.

‘What New York did is a very simple model for them to replicate. This comes down to simple testing. To not do it is gross negligence. 

‘There’s no reason not to do it, especially when you know it’s spreading and when you know it’s dangerous,’ he said.  

Fauci said earlier in the day that mandating negative COVID tests on all flights to the US from the UK was ‘under active discussion’. 

Cuomo said he was powerless to do more than he already has. 

It’s unclear he has only appealed to three of the airlines that fly into New York every day when the mutant strain is already traveling globally. 

‘I think the US should say that we test before anyone comes from any country because the UK variant now has already migrated. 

‘The virus was in China – the virus got on an airplane and within days the virus goes global.   

‘I would say – mandatory testing of anyone coming from any country. I can’t do it. 

‘We don’t control the borders. If I could do it, I would do it. What I did yesterday was an extraordinary measure. I called airlines and asked to be added to a country protocol. They agreed.

‘That’s what I think the US should do,’ he said. 

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