A New York City nursing home director told Fox News Wednesday night that he warned the Cuomo administration that their plan to allow recovering COVID-19 patients to return to nursing and other adult care facilities even if they were still positive for the virus was going to lead to disaster, but his warnings were ignored.
“Michael Kraus, the administrator of the Silver Lakes Specialized Care Center in Staten Island, said he immediately raised the alarm after first hearing about the March 25, 2020, order in a conference call with other directors, hospital leaders, and state officials,” Kraus told the network in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday.
“I said that’s ridiculous. We can’t be doing this. It’s just not right to the residents,” he recalled.
Kraus also noted that he “vocalized” his concern with the policy but that “once it was shot down, I never spoke again.”
He later added, though, that he felt compelled to take in recovering coronavirus patients because other nursing homes had been “threatened” by Cuomo’s government for balking at the policy.
“I never saw the exact emails,” Kraus said, “but [the nursing homes] were threatened that they would be reported. For noncompliance.”
Cuomo’s administration was under fire for revelations regarding his nursing home policy, which may have led to thousands upon thousands of deaths from coronavirus among members of communities particularly vulnerable to the virus. Last month, the issue surfaced even in the mainstream media after a Cuomo aide was reported to have told Democratic legislators that the administration was deliberately undercounting the number of nursing home deaths.
Reports vary on the reason, some indicating that Cuomo was trying to avoid a federal investigation and others suggesting the administration was looking to clean up a mess before his book, touting his own coronavirus management efforts, was released to the public.
Much of that criticism, though, has been lost in a larger scandal: Cuomo’s history of alleged sexual harassment.
Kraus went one step further in his criticism, though, alleging that, while Cuomo’s administration was forcing nursing homes to accommodate coronavirus patients, the state was also rerouting personal protective equipment necessary to maintaining health and safety standards in facilities handling cases of COVID-19.
“At the time the initial order was in place — with the coronavirus rapidly spreading throughout New York City — Kraus says found his facility in the midst of the PPE shortage, as ‘our suppliers [who] would normally send us the PPE were not allowed to send us our full order,'” per Fox News.
When asked why Kraus responded that the suppliers “were guided, they must sell to the hospital first. So we were rationed, if we would order a large order, they would maybe give us 20%. And they just said they weren’t allowed to sell us more.”
Last year, when the nursing home policy first came to light, Cuomo pinned the issue on the federal government, noting that then-President Donald Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said returning recovering COVID-19 patients to their long-term care facilities was safe as long as proper precautions were taken. That excuse takes on a different character if Cuomo’s administration ordered PPE suppliers to serve hospitals first at the expense of long-term care facilities also serving coronavirus patients.
Although much focus has turned to Cuomo’s issues with sexual harassment, he is still reportedly under investigation by the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.