Fraudulent Fact Checkers Play Defense for Gov. Cuomo

Fraudulent Fact Checkers Play Defense for Gov. Cuomo

The ironically named “PolitiFact” is again proving they don’t know much about politics or facts.

As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is finally facing blowback for his easily-avoidable nursing home scandal and attempts to cover it up, the fraudulent fact checkers are rallying to his defense. Appearing on CNN’s also-ironically-named “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter, PolitiFact editor-in-chief  Angie Drobnic Holan played defense for Gov. Cuomo, arguing that the issue is “actually really complicated.”

“Certainly, there are things to criticize about how the administration handled data, but the heart of the matter goes back to last year when the state was asking COVID patients who were ready to be discharged from the hospital, [and] we don’t see hard evidence that that made a significant difference in COVID deaths” Holan said, wanting us to believe that the correlation between packing nursing homes with coronavirus patients and a rise in coronavirus deaths in those nursing homes is a figment of our imagination. One has to wonder why the Cuomo administration handled data in such a secretive manor if there’s nothing to hide, but that apparently never crossed Holan’s mind.

“If you look at the statistics, New York is about having the same numbers as other states around the country, and the issue was employees in the nursing homes who didn’t realize they were bringing COVID-19 into the nursing homes so it’s a really complicated situation,” Holon said. ” There’s no clear-cut answers here.” Meanwhile, CNN “fact checker” Daniel Dale can be seen saying nothing as Holan spouted off these easily fact-checkable lies.

Simply summarizing the scandal itself is enough to rebut Holan.

At the center of Cuomo’s litany of errors is his now infamous “March 25 advisory” issued to nursing home administrators, directors of nursing, and hospital discharge planners.

The order put nursing homes in the position where they’d be forced to treat those infected with coronavirus. With that fact alone one can immediately see how such a policy would cause mass death. While a sane individual would prioritize the safety of the elderly against a virus that disproportionately kills the elderly, logic was lost on the Cuomo administration.

The rules were simple; that if a hospital determined that a patient who could be sent to a nursing home was stable, the home had no choice but to take them. As many as 4,500 patients infected with coronavirus were sent to nursing homes.   

What could possibly go wrong? Everything.

As ProPublica noted in their June 16th report excoriating Cuomo’s policy:

In the weeks that followed the March 25 order, COVID-19 tore through New York state’s nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people — about 6% of its more than 100,000 nursing home residents.

States that issued orders similar to Cuomo’s recorded comparably grim outcomes. Michigan lost 5 percent of roughly 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19 since the outbreak began. New Jersey lost 12 percent of its more than 43,000 residents.

In Florida, where such transfers were barred, just 1.6 percent of 73,000 nursing home residents died of the virus. That contradicts Holan’s claim that nursing home deaths were similar in every state. Policy did make a difference, and a major one.

Meanwhile, the Republican County Executive of Rensselaer County rightly saw Cuomo’s advice as absurd and defied it. They were the only nursing home run by the county that saw a total of zero coronavirus deaths over the same time period.

Amusingly, as even noted by a PolitiFact writer back in June:

…Once the state issued its March 25 advisory, nursing home operators said that they felt they had no choice but to accept residents who were either known to be infected or suspected to be. That’s because the March 25 memo did not say anything about making sure that a nursing home can care for a patient before making an admission decision, and said they “must comply with the expedited receipt of residents.” In the month following the memo, nursing homes pleaded for relief from the order.

Furthermore, as ProPublica notes in its analysis, “New York was the only state in the nation that barred testing of those being placed or returning to nursing homes.”

It’s for reasons like these that The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA) issued a statement on March 26 opposing the order: “We find the New York State Advisory to be over-reaching, not consistent with science, unenforceable, and beyond all, not in the least consistent with patient safety principles.” Those concerns were reiterated three days later in a joint statement by AMDA, American Health Care Association, and National Center for Assisted Living.

Holan’s claim that it was nursing home staff that infected seniors, not the coronavirus patients they were forced to take, is straight out of the Cuomo playbook. In July the New York Health Department released a report attempting to exonerate themselves where they spawned that talking point. The problem with putting blame on nursing home workers rather than the infected patients they treated is ridiculous for two reasons. First, as already documented, nursing homes were barred from testing those entering their facilities. Second, the nurses I spoke to when researching for a section of my latest book on the nursing home scandal told me “Staff had their temps checked upon entering the building and tested for COVID.” In other words, staff could have only been responsible for getting others sick if they happened to receive false negatives on their daily testing. The Health Department likely (and likely deliberately) got the correlation backwards – that it was patients infecting staff, not vice versa.

It wasn’t until this year that we’d learn thanks to an AG report that nursing home deaths were 50% higher than the Cuomo administration reported – and that data was deliberately hidden from us. That again leads us to ask, if Cuomo did nothing wrong, why the secrecy?

For anyone who wants a more comprehensive overview of the scandal, I spoke to Newt Gingrich earlier in the month about it. It’s even worse than you think.

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