Sat. Sep 18th, 2021


A survey of Covid-19 implications from an international perspective

by Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

Chapter 14

New York virus from Europe, not China

In an article by Carl Zimmer for New York Times datelined April 8, a clear illustration that political decisions based on bigotry, not science, is primarily responsible why Covid-19 cases are hitting the ceilings in New York.

New research indicates that the corona virus began to circulate in the state by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought in the virus mostly from Europe, not Asia.

“The majority is clearly European,” said Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who co-wrote a study awaiting peer review. A separate team at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine came to strikingly similar conclusions, despite studying a different group of cases. Both teams analyzed genomes from corona viruses taken from New Yorkers starting in mid-March.

On January 31, President Trump barred foreign nationals from entering the country if they had been in China during the prior two weeks. It would not be until late February that Italy would begin locking down towns and cities.

By March 11 when Mr. Trump said he would block travelers from most European countries, he was already late by about 40 days.

The horse had long left the barn

Zimmer echoes in Ian Schwartz’ report in Real Clear Politics.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) argued the corona virus that hit New York state did not come from China but Europe, probably Italy he said. At his April 24 corona virus press briefing, Cuomo confirmed that President Trump’s China travel ban was too late and the horse had long left the barn.

“Researchers now find and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February and there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February,” Cuomo said.

 “(They) say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the state of New York.

“Last November, December, we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You could read about it in the newspapers, right?

“January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington, and California. February 2nd, the president ordered a travel ban from China. March 1st we have the first confirmed case in the state of New York.  

Column: As Andrew Cuomo ascends during coronavirus pandemic, Joe ...
Governor Andrew Cuomo of the State of New York


“2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey.

“March 16th we have a full travel ban from Europe.

“By March 19th, New York state is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to close down than the state of New York.

“(But) We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later? We all talk about the global economy and how fast people move and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China waiting for us to act?

 “We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right. Even in retrospect, it was right, but we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban.

“So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

“When you see in November and December an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it’s in the United States. When they say it’s in China, just assume that virus got on a plane that night and flew to New York, or flew to Newark Airport, and it’s now in New York.

“That has to be the operating mentality, because you don’t know that the virus didn’t get on a plane. All you need is one person to get on that plane in China and come to New York.

Reuters said with his comments, Cuomo thrust himself into a heated and politically fraught debate about when and how the virus first entered the United States and whether officials like Trump and himself could have saved more lives if they had acted sooner.

Cuomo defended his own actions by pointing to the 19 days between New York’s first confirmed case and his lockdown order, arguing that he had moved faster than any other state.

France had first Covid patient in December

I have already discussed Italy in earlier chapters, but what about France which is also hard hit in Europe?

The first corona virus case in France could have occurred a month earlier than official figures suggest following the retesting of 24 patient blood samples from patients who were admitted in December with respiratory infections but had tested negative for the flu.

Professor Yves Cohen from the Avicenne Hospital in Bobigny said it appears that Covid-19 was already in France at the end of 2019 – rather than in January-February 2020 – as had previously been thought.

“We’ve re-analyzed all negative tests on people who were diagnosed with pneumonia. Of the 24 patients, we found one who resulted positive to Covid-19 on December 27 when he was taken to our Avicenne Hospital,” said Cohen. He confirmed that the patient in question has fully recovered and “is well.”

French scientists have identified the earliest-known case of Covid-19 in the nation: a patient who was treated in a hospital near Paris in December, an indication that the virus has been spreading across the world for far longer than had previously been known.

 The doctors from the Groupe Hospitalier Paris Seine in Saint-Denis said a sample taken from a 42-year-old fishmonger, admitted to the emergency room on December 27, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

 The man reported coughing up blood, a headache and a fever. He was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit, though he recovered and was discharged on December29.

The man’s admission to the hospital came four days before the first reports of a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. The earlier date means it is likely the coronavirus had been spreading around the globe for weeks or months before it was identified by Chinese scientists in the cluster of abnormal pneumonia cases in Wuhan.

 The French victim had not traveled abroad since August 2019, when he visited his native Algeria. One of his children had symptoms of an influenza-like illness before he fell ill, a potential sign that the child had contracted the coronavirus as well.

 The United States has found its own earlier cases of the corona virus than initially thought. The Santa Clara, Calif., medical examiner’s office recently reclassified the death of a woman in early February as being due to the coronavirus, about three weeks before the first known death on American soil.

Economy vs lives?

On the reopening of the economy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he’s not willing to trade people’s lives to reopen the state’s economy, saying it’s “absurd” to argue over how many deaths are worth reopening the state.

His remarks came after President Donald Trump told ABC’s David Muir in a rare network news interview that reopening parts of the country’s economy now would inevitably cost some Americans their lives but said the benefits outweigh the costs. 

“It’s possible there will be some [deaths] because you won’t be locked into an apartment or house or whatever it is. “

Trump said people “are dying the other way too,” saying that an increased number of Americans have died from drugs and suicide due to unemployment.

 But the Empire State governor do not share the president’s perspective. 

Cuomo said “This is not a situation where you can go to the American people and say, ‘How many lives are you willing to lose to reopen the economy?’ We don’t want to lose any lives. You start to hear these, to me, what are absurd arguments,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. 

An additional 231 people died from Covid-19 across the state as Cuomo and Trump debate. The governor however qualified that New York is now “on the other side of the mountain” as the daily number of hospitalizations, rate of new infections and deaths related to Covid-19 have continued to decline.

“We’ll figure out the dollars, and we’ll figure out the economic impact, but we’ll protect people in the meantime, and we’ll protect their health.”

The ‘Last Shift’ of a New York City Nurse

Amid all the politics, Michael Daly submits a riveting story to the Daily Beast.

At 8:15 p.m. on Friday, May 1, at the count of three, dozens of blue and white balloons rose into the Brooklyn night from outside the emergency entrance to Kings County Hospital. These balloons also rose moonward in tribute to Maria Guia Cabillon, a feisty, 5-foot-tall head nurse with an outsized voice who had been known to all as Mama Guia.

Applause and cheers went up from the health-care workers who were gathered in her memory, many clad in protective gowns, a few also wearing face shields, all wearing masks. 

Then at 8:30 p.m. came the sirens of 10 ambulances, three emergency response buses and a number of police vehicles assembled outside the entrance, all with their emergency lights flashing. For weeks, the whole city had filled with these same sirens as the virus killed thousands.

Guia had lost her own life in the battle to save whomever they could. And this tribute made clear that her spirit lives on with them as the fight continues. 

“This is not over,” Dr. Rob Gore, a longtime comrade, said. “We’re going to need her strength and her tenacity.”

Mama Guia had been the night head nurse at Kings County’s emergency room for decades and her strengths were those of all great leaders. She had wide-ranging knowledge and experience. She understood her people, from fellow nurses to doctors to techs to clerks. She knew how each one worked and how they all worked together. 

Often, she was heard before she was seen. But she raised her voice to instruct, not to abuse. She always placed the interests of others ahead of her own. She never forgot the primary mission to help and heal.

And she had repeatedly demonstrated courage and cool long before the virus came. She had never hesitated to jump in when a patient suddenly went from unruly to crazed.

“Even with her small frame, she’s in the mix,” nurse Shane DeGracia told The Daily Beast. “She’s able to calm the most violent and psychotic patients. To this day, I’m trying to figure out the magic.”

Guia was 63. She was Filipina.

Mama Guia with her “kids” at King County Hospital

“One! Two! Three!” they cried.

The balloons sailed up into night, followed by the bunch that had been briefly snagged and then freed. Applause and cheers were joined by sirens of the emergency vehicles that would then resume answering calls.

The people in scrubs began to file back inside and somebody said on a video of the event that she could hear the outsized voice of the 5-foot giant they called Mama Guia.  

“Go back to work!”



Ado Paglinawan is a daily commentator at Radyo Pilipinas1, and a regular columnist at the country’s newest daily news website and its partner magazine The Sovereign. He is a former Philippine diplomat, serving in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York as press attaché, spokesman and special assistant to Ambassador Emmanuel N. Pelaez. He has served a strategic consultant to Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo. He studied for 1 5 years at San Beda College from grade 1 to 4th year college majoring in English and Philosophy, minor in political science and history. He is a veteran of the First Quarter Storm, participating as president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.  Ado has taken continuing studies in world politics and diplomacy, international public relations, information technology and remote sensing, and Eastern Christianity and Islamic studies, from various universities in Washington DC.


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