New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) said on Friday that the coronavirus came to the United States from Europe and not China.
"We were all told about the China virus, the China virus. This virus came from Europe," Cuomo said on MSNBC. "We were all looking west, and the virus came from the east. Nobody talked about the virus coming from Europe."
The virus's origin in Wuhan, China, became a politically fraught topic when President Donald Trump and others faced criticism for saying the coronavirus is Chinese, while the Chinese government evaded responsibility for the pandemic. China has decried language describing the virus as "Chinese" and has tried to promote the unfounded theory that the virus was brought to Wuhan from America.
In an attempt to stop the virus's spread, Trump barred entry to non-U.S. citizens flying in from China on January 31. On March 12, as the coronavirus showed no signs of stopping and cases rose in Europe, he attempted to further curtail it by banning all flights from Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Cases from Europe, however, were still enough to seed New York with the virus.
"We had 3 million … people coming from Europe—January, February, and March—and that's where the virus came from," Cuomo said.
Since the coronavirus's spread, many Republican members of Congress have sought to hold China responsible for not containing the outbreak or communicating forthrightly about the virus's severity. Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) has argued that China should be held responsible by the U.N. International Court of Justice over its handling of the virus.