What was circulating most closely matched the strain of the virus circulating in Europe, not China, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed for not preventing its spread to the US.
Trump has repeatedly pointed to his travel bans as evidence that his administration has effectively responded to the pandemic, claiming as recently as Tuesday that “we saved millions, potentially millions of lives.”
The new study looked at data collected by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene between March 1 and 20, the early days of the pandemic in the US. The department announced on March 8 that there was sustained community transmission.
The department examined specimens taken from people who went to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms. Of the 544 specimens tested, 36, or 6.6%, were positive for the novel coronavirus.
Doing additional genetic sequencing of the samples, the strain of the virus more closely resembled the one circulating in Europe, rather than the one circulating in China. That means that the novel coronavirus was likely introduced to New York through Europe or by travelers from other US locations, the report said.
There are currently more than 3,497,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, and the virus has claimed the lives of more than 137,000 Americans, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.