New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) on Monday referred to the China-borne coronavirus as the "European virus."
"The European virus infected the Northeast while the White House was still fixated on China," Cuomo said. "The virus had been attacking us for months before they even knew it was here."
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While the coronavirus spread from China to the rest of the world earlier this year, the Chinese government launched a propaganda campaign to obscure its origins and even accused U.S. servicemen of bringing the virus into the country. Democrats have pushed back on the Trump administration's attempts to pin responsibility on China, arguing it was "racist" to refer to the novel disease as the "China virus."
In his remarks, Cuomo blamed the Trump administration for its failure to anticipate the pandemic's magnitude. But like the Trump administration, the governor himself downplayed the threat of the virus as it was beginning to spread across the United States, telling New Yorkers in early March that it was "a manageable situation" and didn't "merit the hysteria." Weeks later, his state became the center of the U.S. outbreak.
Some critics have faulted Cuomo for New York's death toll, which is the highest of any state in the country. A Wall Street Journal investigative report concluded that New York's "response was marred by missed warning signs and policies that many health-care workers say put residents at greater risk and led to unnecessary deaths."
It is not the first time that Cuomo has pinned the virus on Europe. He said in May that the virus came from Europe rather than China.
"We were all told about the China virus, the China virus. This virus came from Europe," Cuomo told MSNBC. "We were all looking west, and the virus came from the east. Nobody talked about the virus coming from Europe."