N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Careless Cruelty Shows in Coronavirus Nursing Home Policy
The core of cruelty defining New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo marches on. As many contend, his policies are responsible for the shocking number of deaths at nursing homes in the state.
In a response to a reporter inquiring about the situation, Mr. Cuomo declared, “He [President Trump] worked it out so we always had available beds. Nobody was deprived of a bed or medical coverage in any way. And still people died. Still, people died. Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive.”
Janice Dean, Fox News’ senior meteorologist, was not impressed with Mr. Cuomo’s remark. Both of her in-laws died of coronavirus complications in a New York nursing home. She responded on Twitter, “Translation: not my fault even though I approved the order that recovering coronavirus patients could go back into nursing and assisted living homes. And then it spread like wildfire to the most vulnerable people that we are supposed to be protecting. …”
Ms. Dean is not the only one arguing this happened not despite what Mr. Cuomo did, but because of what he did.
The policy of requiring coronavirus patients to go from hospital to a nursing home, regardless of whether they still harbored the virus, while forbidding nursing homes from refusing them, was even more perplexing considering the federal government had sent the hospital ship Comfort to provide additional support and beds, as well as establishing the Javits Center as a massive field hospital with an additional 1,700 beds.
Neither one of those facilities were used to any great degree, leaving close to 1,000 beds empty at any one time. There was literally no reason to send compromised elderly and infirm into environments of more elderly and infirm, and every existential reason not to do so.
Recently, this column remarked on Mr. Cuomo’s astoundingly cold comments to frightened small business owners and out-of-work New Yorkers that they should stop complaining and apply for jobs as “essential workers.” That sort of contempt for the average person doesn’t just show up as a one-off burst of benign apathy. Now, this even more illustrative example of Mr. Cuomo’s brutality is finally being discussed, at least in some quarters.
New York City Council member Joe Borelli told Fox News: “The truth of the matter is on March 25, the Cuomo administration made a decision in the form of a written policy that prevented nursing homes from rejecting patients that were testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, from coming back into the nursing home.”
That order specifically said “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
New York is now reporting more than 5,400 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, a number that many believe is underreported. As the outrage continued to build, finally on May 10, Mr. Cuomo effectively reversed himself with new rules requiring, in part, that hospitals do not discharge anyone to a nursing home without confirming that they are coronavirus-free. But the question about the obvious recklessness of his original policy became even more urgent because of his response about the issue on Sunday.
Did Mr. Cuomo’s attitude that elderly victims of the virus were going to die “no matter what you do” inform his decision to send them back to nursing homes? Did he not want to “waste” a bed anywhere else on these supposedly hopeless cases? When did that attitude infect his thinking? Perhaps he believes his excuse absolves him of responsibility. He would be wrong.
Michael Goodwin at the New York Post tells us, “Nursing home executives, meanwhile, complain privately that Cuomo should’ve known his mandate would be a killer, but they were never consulted and got no notice before being swamped with infected patients. As one owner put it, longtime residents began ‘dropping like flies’ soon afterward. The same executives will not go public with their complaints because they fear Cuomo will punish them with fines and take their licenses.”
In his piece, Mr. Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, calls for a federal investigation with a designated U.S. attorney using a grand jury to find answers and pursue justice. In addition to Mr. Borelli of New York City calling for an investigation, New York Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis wants an independent federal investigation into Mr. Cuomo’s nursing home order, Fox News reported.
Moreover, Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is also calling for an independent federal investigation. She told “Fox & Friends,” “The governor took executive action forcing positive COVID cases back in the nursing homes, there was zero transparency in terms of informing the seniors, the workers, or the family members whether there were positive cases. They also didn’t fully tell the public how many seniors deaths that were coming from nursing homes. …”
The backlash has been severe, but what we all deserve is accountability and justice. Mr. Cuomo’s infamous March order made no sense, unless he decided executive orders give him the power to be a one-man death panel. Only a federal investigation will provide answers that everyone can trust.
• Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk-show host.