The government response to the coronavirus led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly contributed to the city and state becoming the hardest-hit areas in the U.S.
A Wall Street Journal investigation and review of Cuomo and de Blasio’s policies, decisions, and statements in the days and weeks leading up to the pandemic and after the state locked down to slow the virus’ spread said the men’s actions likely contributed to the state’s high case number and death toll.
The Wall Street Journal listed a number of shortfalls its investigation revealed through interviews with healthcare professionals on the front lines of the crisis and by comparing the state and city’s response to other governors and mayors. The Journal’s investigation found:
- Improper patient transfers. Some patients were too sick to have been transferred between hospitals. Squabbling between the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations contributed to an uncoordinated effort.
- Insufficient isolation protocols. Hospitals often mixed infected patients with the uninfected early on, and the virus spread to non-Covid-19 units.
- Inadequate staff planning. Hospitals added hundreds of intensive-care beds but not always enough trained staff, leading to improper treatments and overlooked patients dying alone.
- Mixed messages. State, city government and hospital officials kept shifting guidelines about when exposed and ill front-line workers should return to work.
- Overreliance on government sources for key equipment. Hospitals turned to the state and federal government for hundreds of ventilators, but many were faulty or inadequate.
- Procurement-planning gaps. While leaders focused attention on procuring ventilators, hospitals didn’t always provide for adequate supplies of critical resources including oxygen, vital-signs monitors and dialysis machines.
- Incomplete staff-protection policies. Many hospitals provided staff with insufficient protective equipment and testing.
Arguably the largest debacle of Cuomo’s pandemic response were his policies governing long-term care facilities. For nearly two months, nursing homes were forced to take recovering coronavirus patients from hospitals that had not yet tested negative for the virus. The policy likely exacerbated the spread of the virus among New York’s most vulnerable population, according to experts.
Cuomo eventually rescinded the policy on May 10 but has continued to deny that he shoulders any share of the blame for the Covid-19 death toll in his state’s nursing facilities.
“What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody,” Cuomo said during a May 17 press conference. “Nobody. Mother nature. God. Where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus. That is the truth. Best hospital system on the globe, I believe we have. Best doctors, best nurses who have responded like heroes, every medication, ventilators, the health system wants for nothing. We worked it out so we always had available beds. Nobody was deprived of a bed or medical coverage in any way.”
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