New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is still defending his administration’s policy of sending COVID-19 positive individuals into nursing homes and other adult care facilities with populations at risk of contracting the deadly virus. This time though, he found a convenient target to blame for the illnesses and deaths: President Donald Trump.
At a press conference Saturday, Cuomo claimed that he was only following the president’s directives when he issued his nursing home plan.
“New York followed the president’s agencies’ guidance,” he said, per Fox News. “What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has, indeed, issued some guidance on coronavirus and nursing facilities, according to the network, but it refers largely to those individuals who might have been accepted at an adult care facility before the pandemic began and does not appear to reference COVID-19 positive patients specifically.
Instead, the CDC guidance say that, “nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.” The CDC also required that “any newly admitted and readmitted resident with a COVID-19 case to be placed in a designated COVID-19 care unit, while those who have met the criteria to have recovered can return to a regular unit in the nursing home,” according to Fox News.
“Not could. Should,” a Cuomo aide said, referring to policy. “That is President Trump’s CMS and CDC. There are over a dozen states that did the exact same thing.”
Cuomo’s policy directed nusring homes and adult care facilities to accept patients coming not just from hospitals and other facilities with incidents of coronavirus, but also forced those same programs to accept coronavirus-positive patients and those recovering from the virus, many of whom continued to be contagious. The policy appears to have led to more than 5,000 deaths in New York alone.
“This is a political season, I get it,” Cuomo added in an earlier appearance. “I’m not going to get into the political back-and-forth, but anyone who wants to ask why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes, it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance.”
Cuomo added: “They should ask President Trump. I think that will stop the conversation,” he said.
The New York Times, though, in an expose published at the end of April, criticized the Cuomo administration for sending COVID-19 patients into many homes, particularly homes that serve minority and low-income communities, that could not adequately separate those with coronavirus from the general population. Under threat of state repercussions, these facilities took in individuals recovering from COVID-19, causing major outbreaks.
The Associated Press also found that 4,300 COVID-19 patients were sent to nursing homes before New York scrapped the program, giving rise to an extended outbreak in the state.
Cuomo’s administration ultimately rescinded the policy, but the governor continues to defend it, citing other states like New Jersey and Michigan, where COVID-19 patients were sent to nursing and adult care facilities. Both of those states, though, are also suffering through extended coronavirus outbreaks, and as many as 50% of coronavirus-related deaths in both states may have occurred in nursing homes.
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