Outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) claimed that the coronavirus came to New York “on planes from Europe,” instead of citing the virus’s widely-believed origin of Wuhan, China.
During a press conference Tuesday where he resigned from office following the New York attorney general’s finding that he sexually harassed women, including subordinates and a state trooper assigned to protect him, Cuomo praised New York for battling through the coronavirus.
He said: “The enemy landed in New York state. COVID launched the attack here. It came on planes from Europe and we had no idea.”
He added, “It was an ambush. And it was up to New Yorkers to fight back. We were on our own, and it war. Nurses, doctors, essential workers became our front line heroes. Hospitals became the battlegrounds. Streets were still and sirens filled the city’s silence. Trailers carried the bodies of our fallen brothers and sisters. But you refused to give up, you fought back, and you won.”
Cuomo never once mentioned China, where the virus is widely-accepted to have originated in 2019.
It is not the first time Cuomo has asserted the virus came from Europe, after reports and studies that said New York City’s first “confirmed” coronavirus cases were primarily from European and United States sources.
For example, a study from the University of Indiana suggested that travelers coming from Italy drove the first wave of coronavirus in the U.S. more than travelers from China.
However, other studies suggest the virus arrived to Italy from China. A Journal of Global Health study suggested the virus might have arrived to Italy via Chinese tourists from Wuhan visiting Northern Italy in January and February 2020, or via the tens-of-thousands of Chinese migrants working in the Italian textile industry.
Chinese officials have tried to sow confusion over the origins of the virus, also claiming the virus originated in Europe, not China.
Former President Donald Trump often cited Wuhan as the source of the virus, where it was first discovered, but Democrats accused him of prompting racism and hate against Asian Americans.
The Biden administration is currently investigating the origins of the virus, and if it escaped from a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan.