Gov. Cuomo’s Top Health Officials Jump Ship
A new report from New York’s Attorney General found that as bad as the state’s nursing home scandal was, it was worse than we initially believed.
While there were roughly 8,711 deaths recorded in New York’s nursing homes the day before the AG’s report, those stats didn’t provide an complete picture. If a nursing home resident caught coronavirus in the home and then was transported to a hospital where they later died, that wasn’t counted as a nursing home death. When counting deaths accurately, the AG report found that there an estimated 12,743 nursing home deaths.
Since the reports publication, Cuomo has finally gotten the delayed criticism over his nursing home policy that he’s long deserved. Even more shocking than the extent of the undercounting is the fact that this isn’t actually some grand revelation. We’ve known as much since at least August thanks to a report from the Associated Press on undercounting in the nursing home death toll – with their estimates in line with what the AG report. At the time there were an estimated 6,000 nursing home deaths, while the AP estimated the true number around twice that.
Meanwhile, Cuomo’s top health advisers are jumping ship. According to the New York Post:
At least nine top Cuomo administration health officials have resigned, retired or been reassigned amid the coronavirus crisis that’s devastated New York.
The flood of departures was reported Monday by the New York Times, which tied them to dissatisfaction with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and cited sources who complained that pandemic policy is set entirely by Cuomo and a close circle of aides rather than health experts.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has stood by his top health expert, Zucker, despite ongoing controversy over the Health Department’s March 25 directive for nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients — which critics have blamed for spreading the virus among highly vulnerable residents, with disastrous results.
Last week, Zucker also came under fire following Attorney General Letitia James’ revelation that the DOH downplayed the total number of nursing home deaths by withholding the number of residents who died in hospitals.
Cuomo himself said of the nursing home deaths following the AG report, “who cares.”
“It’s not about pointing finger. It’s a blame. It’s that this became a political football, but who cares?… died in a hospital, died in a nursing home. They died! Why COVID? Why did God do this? I don’t know” he said. It’s reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s post-Benghazi comment; “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
The comment was widely condemned as insensitive – and at the very minimum it was terribly worded. Cuomo seemed to be trying to argue that people dying of coronavirus were going to die of it regardless of their geographic location, so why focus on nursing homes? The obvious answer is that those deaths could’ve been avoided by not sending coronavirus patients to nursing homes.