News and Commentary

Andrew Cuomo Blames Feds For NY Nursing Home Deaths, Attacks Florida. Here Are Some Facts.

"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.’"
Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control.
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Speaking to Finger Lakes Daily News, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended himself from the charge that his policies caused more deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes. In response to a question about the issue, Cuomo blamed the federal government, attacked Florida’s state government, claimed that New York “flattened the curve effectively,” and said, “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.”

New York State has reported “more than 6,600 nursing home COVID-19 related deaths,” Finger Lakes Daily News reports, “but that number is likely much higher since New York does not include residents who initially contracted the virus at a nursing home but died after being transferred to a hospital.” State Senator Tom O’Mara has co-sponsored a bill requiring the Department of Health to provide the accurate death toll from those in nursing homes. “He said many believe that number could be twice as high,” the Daily News notes.

The outlet asked Cuomo, “Governor, you said earlier that you lie down at night and you can sleep knowing that you saved lives. What would you say to New York residents who lost their loved ones in nursing homes due to your mandate back in late March regarding sending COVID-positive patients back to nursing homes?”

“Yeah, I would say, first of all, that’s not why they lost a loved one,” Cuomo protested. “Your premise, the premise of your question, is just factually wrong. People who were lost in nursing homes were lost because that’s where the virus preys. The virus preys on senior citizens. The virus was introduced in this country in Washington, state of Washington in a nursing home. That’s who succumb to this virus, are immune-compromised senior citizens, and they’re predominantly located in nursing homes.”

“Number two: you look at the nursing home deaths in this state; do you know what number we are by percentage before you made that statement? We’re number 46 out of 50 states,” Cuomo continued, “And we had the worst problem, and we’re number 46 in terms of percentage of deaths in nursing homes.”

Citing a state in-house report,  Cuomo continued, “And number three, there’s a whole report done with data: the way the virus got into nursing homes was from two possible carriers before we even knew about it. The staff, working staff at the nursing home, brought in the virus. Or, potentially, family members, before we stopped family visits, brought in the virus. And this happened at a time, back in February, when we didn’t even know that the virus was circulating in New York state. That’s how the virus got into the nursing home.”

Cuomo then segued to blaming the federal government: “But why didn’t we know the virus was in New York state? Because the federal government missed it. The federal government, that has the CDC, the NIH, they do international health care. They still thought the virus was in China. The president last night kept talking about China; no, it wasn’t in China. It was in China in December. It then went to Europe in January and February, and the people from Europe then came to New York and brought the virus. And the federal government totally missed that it came from Europe. The federal government didn’t do a travel ban until mid-March. By that time, three million Europeans had come here.”

“And why New York? Because that’s where the flights from Europe come,” Cuomo went on. “They come to New York, primarily; JFK, Newark airport, etc. So that’s how the virus got into nursing homes. If you’d like to actually understand some facts, I’ll have them send you a full report that was done, and then you’ll be able to help people with some facts.”

He continued: “Ignorance doesn’t help grieving people. The rule that the state had, which was from the CDC guidance, right? The state didn’t make it up; they were following the CDC guidance. Now you can say, ‘Well, the state health department was stupid to follow the federal guidance,’ and you may have a point there. But the rule said the nursing homes can’t discriminate on the basis of COVID. The law also said a nursing home cannot accept a person who they cannot treat effectively while protecting the other residents. That’s the law. The point of the two rules was, if hospitals became overwhelmed, which was a real possibility, if not probability early on, we’d have to discharge people from hospitals and they’d have to go back to nursing homes. And that’s why the anticipatory rule was you can’t discriminate against a COVID-positive person. But you’d have to be able to take care of them without infecting other people. And if you can’t do that, you can’t accept them.”

“That situation never came to be in New York state because we flattened the curve so effectively we always had available hospital beds,” Cuomo boasted. “So we never scrambled for beds, and 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. We had extra beds. We had extra beds at Javits; we had extra beds at emergency hospitals that we put up all across the state. So it just never happened that we needed a nursing home to take a COVID-positive person. It never happened.”

Cuomo then attacked Florida: “You know where it did happen? In Florida. Florida today is doing exactly that. They’re forcing nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients because they need the beds in the hospitals. We never got near hospital capacity.”

He concluded, “So I understand the political time; I understand Trump; I understand where you are, but a loved one, having someone who lost a loved one, saying to them, ‘Well, this was a government mess-up; it was unnecessary; your mother could be alive; your father could be alive; your grandmother could be alive,’ it’s just incorrect, untrue, and frankly, it’s mean.”

Comparisons between Democrat-led New York and Republican-led Florida’s handling of the virus have been made frequently. A timeline of their responses based on media reports pushes back on some of Cuomo’s narrative regarding how his state handled its nursing home policy and successfully “flattened the curve” compared to Florida:

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Andrew Cuomo Blames Feds For NY Nursing Home Deaths, Attacks Florida. Here Are Some Facts.