Coronavirus Updates: CDC Report Confirms Early NYC COVID Transmission Was From Europe


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This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Thursday, July 16th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in
Phase 3 of reopening now, which includes nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage facilities as well as recreation like tennis and basketball courts; dog runs are also reopening. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is ourregularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

The report, titled, "Detection and Genetic Characterization of Community-Based SARS-CoV-2 Infections — New York City, March 2020," notes, "The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted sentinel surveillance of influenza-like symptoms (ILS) and genetic sequencing to characterize community transmission and determine the geographic origin of SARS-CoV-2 infections. Among 544 specimens tested from persons with ILS and negative influenza test results, 36 (6.6%) were positive. Genetically sequenced positive specimens most closely resembled sequences circulating in Europe."

The CDC also noted that while domestic airport screening and bans "on foreign nationals traveling from China" were put in place on February 2nd, "similar travel restrictions from the Schengen Area in Europe were only implemented March 13th," when the virus was already in New York. "Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 had already occurred in NYC."

Cuomo reiterated the point about the European travel ban being too late, "The president likes to talk about the travel ban [on Chinese flights] that was effective... his own CDC says the travel ban was too late." He pointed out how there were thousands of flights from Europe landing at JFK and Newark Airports in early March.

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