NY’s Cuomo Denies Responsibility for COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

NY’s Cuomo Denies Responsibility for COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York in New York City on July 23, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is denying that the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 had anything to do with his state policy that ordered adult-care facilities to accept COVID-19-positive patients from hospitals.

On March 25, Cuomo, citing worries of hospitals being overwhelmed, mandated that nursing homes and long-term care facilities take in COVID-19 patients, so long as they were “medically stable.”

During a Sept. 30 interview with Finger Lakes News Radio, Cuomo was asked about the order, which many of his critics say contributed to the 6,500 deaths that occurred in nursing homes across the state.

Cuomo rejected the idea that his order during the early days of the CCP virus outbreak led to lives lost in nursing homes, calling such claims “factually wrong.”

“That’s not why they lost a loved one,” the Democratic governor said, referring to families of elderly COVID-19 victims. “People who were lost in nursing homes were lost because that’s where the virus preys.”

He then blamed health care workers and visiting family members for bringing the CCP virus into New York’s nursing homes.

“The working staff at the nursing home brought in the virus or potentially family members—before we stopped family visits—brought in the virus,” Cuomo said. “This happened that a time back in February when we didn’t even know the virus was circulating in New York State. That’s how the virus got into the nursing home.”

Cuomo moved on to claim that there has never been a concern of overwhelmed hospitals in his state—a statement that apparently contradicts his previous remarks about New York facing an imminent hospital bed shortage, which prompted the Army Corp of Engineers to build field hospitals and President Donald Trump to send in the USNS Comfort, the Navy’s floating hospital.

“That situation never came to be in New York state, because we flattened the curve so effectively, we always had available hospital beds,” he said. “So we never scrambled for beds.”

“We never needed nursing home beds because we always had hospital beds, so it just never happened in New York, where we needed to say to a nursing home, ‘We need you to take this person even though they’re COVID positive,’ it never happened.”

The interview comes after a pair of bills introduced in New York’s state legislature, demanding the state health department reveal exactly how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19 after being sent to hospitals.

“New York’s accounting of nursing home and adult care facility resident deaths do not include those residents who had been transferred to a hospital and then passed away,” said state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who chairs the state senate’s health committee.

“While the official tally at the time of the hearings was approximately 6,500 deaths of residents in facilities, many speculated the number was significantly higher and that the under counting gives an inaccurate and rosier picture of what actually happened in New York.”