Andrew Cuomo has refused to accept blame for his decision to return coronavirus patients to their nursing homes, despite the directive being blamed by many for contributing to the more than 6,000 New York nursing home deaths.
More patients died in New York nursing homes than in nursing homes in any other state.
‘Yes, we had more people die in nursing homes than anywhere else – because we had more people die,’ Cuomo told MSNBC on Monday.
‘Because the federal government missed the boat and never told us that this virus was coming from Europe and not from China.’
Andrew Cuomo, appearing on MSNBC Monday, blamed the federal government for deaths in New York nursing homes. On March 25 he ordered those recovering to be sent back to homes
He said that those questioning his decision were ‘playing politics’, and said Republicans seized on the criticism to deflect attention from their own deficiencies.
‘It’s all a political charade, and it’s an ugly one, to be honest,’ he said.
‘The Republicans are playing politics. They don’t want to talk about how they are now handling the COVID crisis.
‘And January, February, March – before they did the European travel ban – three million people came from Europe and brought the virus to New York and the federal government didn’t know – and the federal government and the CDC and all of them failed to handle this pandemic and warn this nation.
‘So New York had more cases, more deaths and more deaths in nursing homes because that’s who the virus affects. It affects senior citizens. We know that.’
On March 25 the governor of New York ordered that those recovering from COVID-19 be sent back to their nursing homes, to help free up hospital beds for the sickest patients as cases surged.
Over a month later, on April 29, the Health Department clarified that homes should not take any new residents if they were unable to meet their needs, including a checklist of standards for coronavirus care and prevention.
This map shared by the federal government shows that COVID-19 cases in nursing homes have been rampant in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts as indicated in red
This map shows where nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 have been prevalent, especially in New York state
This chart shows a breakdown of states per average number of deaths per 1,000 residents wtih Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut suffering the highest rates at 105.5, 101.3, and 88.2 deaths respectively
In the meantime, some nursing homes felt obligated and overwhelmed.
On May 10 reversed the directive, and blamed Donald Trump.
‘Why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes?’ said the governor at the time.
‘It’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidelines. So they should ask President Trump.’
Coronavirus cases as of Monday at 5pm
On Monday Cuomo instead turned his anger at Republican governors who were opening up too quickly and seeing a spike in cases. New York, he said, currently has the lowest infection rate in the United States and the economic recovery is ‘sustainable, rather than these fits and starts’.
He said he was considering a travel ban for those currently in hard-hit states, among them Florida and Texas.
‘Let them look in the mirror and say, you know what, we were wrong, and we are killing people unnecessarily through this reckless reopening and it’s not working for the economy either,’ he said.
Cuomo has been widely praised for his handling of New York’s coronavirus pandemic, which in April saw New York City become the global epicenter of the disease.
But his decision to send patients back to nursing homes remains deeply controversial.
There have now been more than 120,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States
Nationwide, nursing homes reported nearly 179,000 suspected or confirmed cases among residents and 29,497 deaths as of June 7
Nursing home residents account for nearly one in 10 of all coronavirus cases in the US and more than a quarter of the deaths in the country, according to a new report. A Cataldo EMS team pick up a suspected COVID-19 patient at Eastpointe Rehabilitation, a nursing home, on April 23 in Chelsea, Massachusetts
Medical workers on May 6 attend to a patient outside Harlem Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation where at least 20 bodies were removed during coronavirus pandemic
The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, known as AMDA, had warned from the beginning that Cuomo’s order admitting infected patients posed a ‘clear and present danger’ to nursing home residents.
Jeffrey N. Nichols, who serves on the executive committee of the group, said ‘the effect of that order was to contribute to 5,000 deaths.’
An analysis by the Associated Press at the end of May found that more than 4,500 recovering patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes.
‘It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people,’ said Daniel Arbeeny, who pulled his 88-year-old father out of a Brooklyn nursing home where more than 50 people have died.
His father later died of COVID-19 at home.
‘This isn’t rocket science,’ he told AP.
‘We knew the most vulnerable – the elderly and compromised – are in nursing homes and rehab centers.’
In Manhattan, at least 98 residents of Isabella Geriatric Center died since the pandemic started. Some died at the nursing home and some died after being treated at hospitals.
Refrigerated trucks were parked outside the Isabella Geriatric Center on May 2 in Manhattan
Gurwin Jewish, a 460-bed home on Long Island, seemed well-prepared for the coronavirus in early March, with movable walls to seal off hallways for the infected.
But after the March 25 state order, a trickle of recovering COVID-19 patients from local hospitals turned into a flood of 58 people.
More walls were put up, but other residents nonetheless began falling sick and dying.
In the end, 47 Gurwin residents died of confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Some states went in the opposite direction.
Louisiana barred hospitals for 30 days from sending coronavirus patients to nursing homes.
Louisiana reported about 1,000 coronavirus-related nursing home deaths, far fewer than New York.
However, that was 40 per cent of Louisiana’s statewide death toll, a higher proportion than in New York.
Nearly a quarter of all deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 have been in nursing homes.
Almost half of the more-than 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. reported suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of June 7.
New Jersey had the highest proportion of nursing homes with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, at about 82 percent. This comprises 299 of the state’s 363 nursing homes.
Massachusetts had the highest proportion of nursing homes with COVID deaths, with nearly 66 percent reporting a death. That represented 247 of the state’s 376 nursing homes.
The nation’s first major outbreak, reported in late February, was in a Seattle-area nursing home.