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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday blamed an “alphabet soup” of agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for not giving states sufficient warning about the incoming coronavirus threat from China at the beginning of the year.
“But where was the whole international health community? Where was the whole national host of experts? The WHO, the [National Institutes of Health], the CDC, that whole alphabet soup of agencies. Where was everyone?” he asked.
Cuomo said that people knew about a virus in November and December in China, and how fast it could get to the U.S. because it just needed one person on a plane to spread it. He also pointed a finger at the intelligence community, as well as the media, for not making the risks more known.
“And again, it’s not a state responsibility, but in this system, who is supposed to blow the bugle and didn’t? Because, as I would bank that this happens again, and is the same thing going to happen again? I hope not,” he said.
There has been increasing scrutiny on not only the Trump administration but also the WHO and other agencies for what was known about the virus early on and whether the initial response was adequate.
The World Health Organization has faced criticisms for its alleged pro-China stance and accusations that it turned a blind eye as China covered its tracks in the early days of the outbreak. Trump also flagged opposition to his travel ban from China as one of the reasons for pausing funding to the controversial agency.
It’s a stance that Cuomo has voiced some support for, despite the two not seeing eye-to-eye on a number of other issues.
“Whose job is it to warn of us of these global pandemics? The president says it’s the World Health Organization, and that’s why he’s taken action against them,” Cuomo said last week. “It’s not my field but he’s right to ask the question, because this was too little, too late,”
But the World Health Organization has pushed back against criticism, with director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying Monday that “the world should have listened to the WHO carefully.”
“We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach — find, test, contact tracing and so on. The countries who followed that are in a better position than others,” he said.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.