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Cuomo criticizes federal response to travelers from the UK

Dan Clark/New York Now file photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo is concerned about the variation of the coronavirus that has been seen in the United Kingdom recently and whether it will be coming into New York City from regular daily flights.

During a Sunday news conference, Cuomo noted that a number of other countries have either required people flying from the UK to get a COVID test first before flying to their nations, or in some cases, issuing an outright ban on those travelers. The governor asked why the U.S. has not taken similar action.

“Right now this variant, in the UK is getting on a plane and flying to JFK. Right now, today. 120 countries require a test, we don’t; other European countries have done a ban, we haven’t,” Cuomo said.

The new variant of the coronavirus is said to be more easily transmissible than the strain that has been prevalent. But President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, says there is no reason to believe that vaccines that have been developed against COVID-19 will not be effect against the new mutation.

“While it seems to be more easily transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it,” Murthy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There’s no reason to believe that the vaccines that have been developed will not be effective against this virus, as well.”

During his Sunday briefing Cuomo also talked about his enthusiasm for the Buffalo Bills and its fan base, now that the team clinched the AFC-East title on Saturday.

Cuomo was asked by reporters on Sunday whether the state might allow fans in Bills Stadium.

Cuomo says that decision will be up to New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

“It’s going to be Dr. Zucker’s call, but it’s also going to depend on the circumstances that Western New York is in at that time; what’s the infection rate, what’s the hospitalization rate, etc.”

The state health department is now reviewing the proposal for allowing fans in Bills’ stadium. Zucker says he has more concern about the transmission of the coronavirus in tailgate parties than he does in the stadium itself, but the state has not yet made a decision on those plans.

And when talking about the latest COVID-19 numbers around New York on Sunday, Cuomo again mentioned that the Finger Lakes region has the highest positivity rate for the virus at 8.34%. The region also has the highest rate of hospital utilization, and the governor indicated the state will be keeping an eye on the metrics out of the Finger Lakes. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.