New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced nursing homes to take thousands of recovering and potentially infectious coronavirus patients from hospitals.
Between March 25 and May 10, the Democratic governor pushed an estimated 4,300 hospital patients diagnosed with Covid-19 into nursing homes with some of the most vulnerable targets of the coronavirus, according to a review of hospital data by the Associated Press. The New York state government has withheld releasing its own review of the data.
When told of the AP count, the New York Health Department said it “can’t comment on data we haven’t had a chance to review, particularly while we’re still validating our own comprehensive survey of nursing homes admission and re-admission data in the middle of responding to this global pandemic.”
Cuomo has faced a torrent of criticism over the orders that caused coronavirus positive patients to be placed in nursing homes. That decision led to a mounting death toll among New York’s long-term care facilities, especially around New York City.
“The state has failed to protect the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Democratic assemblyman Ron Kim told The Wall Street Journal. “The fact we maintained and pushed Covid-positive patients into facilities that were not equipped to handle them, it was a fatal error.”
Since rescinding the order, Cuomo has attempted to distance himself from the death toll in New York’s nursing homes while previous decisions by his administration have concealed the true extent of the pandemic inside the state’s nursing homes.
New York officials have acknowledged that a subtle reporting change the administration made in late April has caused the state to undercount Covid-19 deaths in long-term care facilities. The rule change omitted nursing home residents who died outside of their facility from being counted as a long-term facility death. So, for example, any nursing home resident who died in a hospital is not counted in New York’s tracker.
New York’s nursing home death count “currently does not include out of facility deaths,” New York Health Department spokeswoman Jill Montag told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Deaths of nursing home and adult care facility residents that occurred at hospitals is accounted for in the overall fatality data on our COVID-19 tracker.”
In late March and under pressure from the nursing home industry, Cuomo aids inserted a provision in the state’s budget that blocked people from suing facilities such as nursing homes for negligence regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor has attempted to justify and rationalize his decision in recent press conferences over the state’s battle against the coronavirus.
“As a government, we are doing everything that we can,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “We’re doing more testing than any other state. We’ve been more aggressive than any state in nursing home precautions. We have been smart. New Yorkers have been smart. The government has been smart and that should be respected.”