NEW YORK — A growing list of European Union nations have banned flights from the United Kingdom to block a new strain of coronavirus; Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Sunday for federal government to take action to prevent the new variant from coming to the United States.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new COVID-19 mutation is 70% more transmissible than existing strains. It isn’t in New York, but state health officials started looking for it, Cuomo said. There are six flights a day arriving into New York from the U.K.
“Today that variant is getting on a plane and landing at JFK,” he said. “All it takes is one person.”
New York does not have the power to block flights: that power lies with the federal government, Cuomo said. The governor said federal officials should test people flying from the U.K. to NY for the new coronavirus mutation.
“How many times in life do you have to make the same mistake before you learn? The federal government is being grossly negligent, just like the spring, and every day they do nothing on this problem,” Cuomo said. “It’s high time the federal government takes swift action.”
The last time New York dealt with a virus mutation was in April, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.
Health experts have a “working assumption” that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will work on this mutation, but Cuomo said he has concerns.
“We have gotten so much wrong and the experts have been so wrong on this,” he said. “I take it all with a grain of salt to tell you the truth.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.