A new study claims there were at least 10,600 COVID-19 cases in New York State before officials knew of the first confirmed case.

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On Thursday during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 press briefing, Secretary to New York State Melissa DeRosa pointed to a new report from the New York Times that states coronavirus was in New York months before anyone knew.

"We now know there were at least 10,600 cases in New York, I'm betting that number is higher, by the time we got our first positive case confirmation on March 1," DeRosa said.

The New York Times shared a study by Northwestern University. Researchers say on March 1 there were 23 confirmed cases in five major U.S. cities, but the Northeastern model believes there were 28,000 infections in those cities on March 1.

Possible COVID-19 infections on March 1 according to Northwestern University research:

  • New York: 10,700
  • Boston: 2,300
  • Chicago: 3,300
  • Seattle: 2,300
  • San Francisco: 9,300

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“The model allows us to go into what we call the invisible stage of the epidemic in the United States,” Northeastern’s Network Science Institute Director Alessandro Vespignai said. “We can simulate the arrival of infected people that were starting local transmission chains.”

The report states that when the U.S. stopped China travel the virus was already secretly spreading in the U.S. and new cases were actually coming from Europe.

“There was no large scale testing capacity in the U.S. and Europe, and the guidelines were to test only people with a travel history,” Vespignani said. “But when you get an infection from somebody who is already in the United States, you don’t have a travel history.”

DeRosa pointed to the report that international travel wasn't shutdown on flights coming into the East Coast.

"Where do the flights from Europe come? New York and Newark. Where you seeing the problem with the cases New York City and northern New Jersey," DeRosa said. "So while the federal government focused on the West Coast and closed down travel that was coming into the West Coast, they didn't close out travel to Europe until I think it was March 16."

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