Like almost every other state in the union, a large percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania have happened inside nursing homes. That number for the commonwealth is nearly 70 percent. And the figure becomes an even greater outrage when you consider the fact that the Pennsylvania Health Secretary’s own mother was transferred from an elder care facility as the bodies piled up. We cannot blame government officials for wanting to get their loved ones out of such a deadly environment, but we can blame them for creating the deadly environment in the first place. Pennsylvania mandated that nursing homes admit COVID-positive people. The Health Secretary’s mother was moved out while COVID patients were moved in – the most macabre form of insider trading that one can imagine.
As I have written about before, nursing homes are the story of this pandemic. Half of all coronavirus deaths in Europe are linked to them. In our country, most states are reporting nursing home deaths at 40 or 50 percent of their overall fatality rate. For some states – Minnesota, for example – almost 80 percent of all coronavirus deaths have so far occurred in nursing homes. And it’s not just that state officials didn’t do enough to protect these vulnerable populations. Rather, they actively endangered the most vulnerable. New Jersey, California, and New York all also mandated that nursing homes take in elderly people known to have the infection. New York even prohibited nursing homes from testing patients before they were admitted, and refused to provide protective gear to staff (“not our job,” the governor said).
These governmental mandates can be directly blamed for many deaths. It is not an exaggeration to say that the governors and other officials in these states have blood on their hands. Indeed, as just one example, the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had no coronavirus fatalities before the March 25 mandate from the state government requiring them to accept cases. Since then, 24 residents have died of the disease. We were told that governors who open their states will be responsible for the bloodbath that would supposedly follow. But there has been no bloodbath. In fact, the states that have opened have seen declines in new case. The real bloodbath has happened, and is still happening, in nursing homes. And government policies are largely to blame.
This all deserves much more attention than it’s getting, but the news media has shown little interest in it. That’s no surprise. It just so happens that all of the governors who put nursing home mandates in place are Democrats. That will save them from media scrutiny, and probably even legal scrutiny. But the fact remains that this is one of the costliest, deadliest, and most significant scandals of our time.