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Travelers from New York City sparked second coronavirus wave: report

Travelers leaving New York City for various locations around the U.S. were responsible for much of the spread of a second wave of the coronavirus in the country, according to findings from scientists.

The New York Times reported Thursday that researchers tracking the genetic makeup of the virus now believe that many scattered outbreaks around the U.S. had their roots in New York City before stay-at-home orders were imposed.

“It means that we missed the boat early on, and the vast majority in this country is coming from domestic spread,” Kristian Andersen, a microbiology and immunology professor at Scripps Research, told the Times. “I keep hearing that it’s somebody else’s fault. That’s not true. It’s not somebody else’s fault, it’s our own fault.”

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“We now have enough data to feel pretty confident that New York was the primary gateway for the rest of the country,” added the Yale School of Public Health's Nathan Grubaugh.

Grubaugh went on to estimate that between 60 and 65 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases as of May could be traced back to New York, suggesting that earlier action taken in the nation's largest city could have prevented the virus from spreading.

New York state ordered lockdown procedures in late March, but state officials in particular were criticized over the slow pace of actions taken to shutter bars and other public places seen as hotspots for the virus. Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew Mexico governor settles with former campaign aide over claim of unwanted sexual behavior Fauci fatigue sets in as top doc sows doubt in vaccine effectiveness New Mexico governor signs marijuana legalization bill MORE (D) initially resisted closing New York City schools during the crisis, though he later reversed course.

Cuomo issued a statewide lockdown order on March 20. The state has reported more than 319,000 confirmed cases of the disease and just under 20,000 deaths.

Cellphone data analyzed by the Times points to localities around the U.S. experiencing outbreaks after an influx of travelers from New York state. Much of the travel began two weeks before city officials implemented a stay-at-home order, the newspaper noted.

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When questioned about the data, a White House spokesman blasted the news media for supposedly using the issue to criticize President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE's response to the pandemic, pointing to Trump's ban on travel from Europe, where the New York outbreak is thought to have originated.

“Just as he acted early on to cut off travel from the source of the virus, President Trump was advised by his health and infectious disease experts that he should cut off travel from Europe — an action he took decisively without delay to save lives while Democrats and the media criticized him and the global health community still did not fully comprehend the level of transmission or spread,” Judd Deere told the Times.

Updated at 12:29 p.m.