Cuomo calls for mandatory tests of international travelers

A sign displaying COVID-19 prevention protocols at LaGuardia Airport.
A sign displaying COVID-19 prevention protocols at LaGuardia Airport.(John Minchillo | AP)
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 10:29 AM EST
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday said the U.K. COVID strain greatly complicates the state’s response to the pandemic.

The governor says the potential for increased viral spread caused by the variant would overwhelm hospitals and trigger full lockdowns similar to those in the spring. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, Cuomo called on testing for all flights coming into the U.S. to prevent the more virulent strain of COVID from coming in.

“I write to you with an urgent plea. I ask that you immediately take action with the CDC and HHS to require a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure for all passengers arriving from international destinations,” Cuomo said. “I have for months deployed as many as 100 personnel to meet domestic flights, and enforce our domestic travel quarantine, but do not have access to arrivals of international flights. Those areas of the airport are under the sole federal control of Customs and Border Protection and the CDC. Once an individual is already on U.S. soil, I believe it is too late anyway.”

Raw Video: Cuomo COVID-19 briefing - Pt. 2

Even without the U.K strain, the number of new daily cases is the highest New York has seen since the start of the pandemic, averaging nearly 14,000 over the last week. The number of hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing. The daily death rate over the past week has averaged about 150.

In the North Country region, hospitalizations as of Tuesday were also at a pandemic high of 87, with 14 in the ICU. The seven-day percent positive rate was 9.2%.

The state so far has about 950,000 doses of vaccine but needs about 2.1 million doses to cover all health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Cuomo called Tuesday’s Senate election results in Georgia a major win for the country and New York, saying it will end the GOP’s economic abuse of New York Yorkers and restore the billions of dollars in tax revenue that was reallocated to other states, as well as preventing severe budget cuts in the coming year. He congratulated Sen. Chuck Schumer, who will become Majority Leader if Democrats win both Georgia seats.

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