New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday blamed international and domestic agencies, as well as legacy media, for what he suggested was a failure to acknowledge and respond to the threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak in China.
Cuomo, at a briefing Tuesday in Syracuse, lamented the apparent negligence of authorities to recognize and raise the alarm in a timely fashion in regards to the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Everybody knows there was a virus in China last November and December,” he said. “Why didn’t someone suspect, ‘Well, maybe the virus gets on a plane and lands in the United States the next day?’
“But all you need is one person to get on a plane. As it happened, one person got on a plane, and went from China to Europe, and then it went from Europe to New York.”
The governor then lashed out at the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Where was the whole international health community?” he asked. “Where was the whole national host of experts, the WHO, the NIH, the CDC, that whole alphabet soup of agencies? Where was everyone?
“Where was the intelligence community, with the briefings?” he continued. “Saying this is in China and they have something called an airplane and you can get on an airplane and you can come to the United States?”
“Governors don’t do pandemics,” Cuomo said, saying that’s the role of competent national and international authorities.
“Where were all the experts? Where was the New York Times? Where was the Wall Street Journal?” he asked. “Where were all the bugle blowers who should say, ‘Be careful, there’s a virus in China that may be in the United States?'”
Cuomo said valuable time was lost in January and February debating the seriousness of the outbreak due to a lack of clear guidance.
“In this system, who was supposed to blow the bugle and didn’t?”
Cuomo’s comments on Tuesday follow earlier comments made at an April 24 briefing when he spoke out in support of President Donald Trump calling into question the actions of the WHO on its COVID-19 response.
He said the Trump administration, which has frozen WHO funding, should get to the bottom of whether the United Nations agency in any way failed to execute its mission.
“Whose job is it to warn of us of these global pandemics? The president says it’s the World Health Organization, and that’s why he’s taken action against them,” Cuomo said at the briefing.
A WHO rule for member countries is that they need to report outbreaks of new illnesses within 24 hours. Another is that the WHO’s chief has the ability to make public any information about a member country flouting the rules.
After freezing WHO funding last week, Trump announced an investigation, accusing the agency of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread of the virus in the first days of the crisis.
“They called it wrong. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. They should have known. And they probably did know. So we’ll be looking into that very carefully,” the president told reporters in Washington earlier in April.
Cuomo said at his briefing, “It’s not my field, but he’s right to ask the question because this was too little, too late.
“And let’s find out what’s happened so it doesn’t happen again—and it will happen again. Bank on it.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at an April 22 briefing that U.S. officials “strongly believe the Chinese Communist Party didn’t report the outbreak of the new coronavirus” within the 24 hours required under WHO policy. Even after it did notify the WHO, the regime in Beijing withheld information about the virus and continues to do so, he said.
Critics also argue that the WHO was too slow to recommend travel restrictions and some other preventive measures and that the agency accepted information from the Chinese Communist Party at face value, despite red flags, including reports of arrests and silencing of whistleblowers.
On Jan. 23, the day the Chinese Communist Party put Wuhan on lockdown, the WHO announced that, despite some internal disagreements, it wouldn’t declare the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Then on Feb. 3, three days after Trump prohibited foreigners who had recently been in China from traveling to the United States, the WHO head voiced opposition to travel bans, saying measures that would “unnecessarily interfere with travel and trade” weren’t needed.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.