ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Without a federal response to the discovery of a new coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking airlines to require passengers coming to New York to be tested for COVID-19.
Over the weekend, a new strain was discovered in the U.K. that is reportedly 70 percent more infectious than the original.
It is not known if it affects people differently or if it reacts differently to the existing vaccines.
The governor called the new strain “very concerning” and “another disaster waiting to happen.”
Cuomo likened the situation to last spring when state officials didn’t know the original strain was coming to New York from Europe.
He said authorities say the strain hasn’t been found in the U.S., but he thinks it’s already here.
“I say that intuitively, because I have an educated intuition, because I lived this and you lived this. This was the spring. This is how we had that New York ambush in the first place.”
He said 120 countries are requiring people traveling from the U.K. to test positive before getting on a plane. The U.S., he said, has not taken any action.
“If the U.K. closed down, if 120 countries require testing, if Canada left a plane on the tarmac because they wouldn’t allow it to board, if the other European countries have said that they’re banning travel, why are we doing nothing?”
Cuomo said he has asked the three airlines that fly to New York from the U.K. to require that passengers flying here get tested.
So far, only British Airways has agreed. He said he hopes the other two, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, follow suit.
“I would not be doing my job as governor of New York if I sat here and let the federal incompetence create another emergency disaster that cost the lives of New Yorkers,” he said.