At the center of New York’s coronavirus disaster was Gov. Cuomo’s now infamous “March 25 advisory” issued to nursing home administrators, directors of nursing, and hospital discharge planners. The supposed logic behind the order was that it would help free up space in the hospitals for seriously ill coronavirus patients (while those less severely affected by the virus could recover in other long-term care facilities, primarily nursing homes).
In a world where the coronavirus is most dangerous to the elderly, common sense would suggest against implementing such a policy, but common sense proved no match for New York liberalism in this case (a frequent occurrence).
As ProPublica notes 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.” Meanwhile, the Republican County Executive of Rensselaer County rightly saw Cuomo’s advice as absurd and defied it. The only nursing home run by the county, Van Renssealaer, saw a total of zero coronavirus deaths.
And some, for good reason, believe the true toll is even higher.
As the New York Post reported:
Republican lawmakers in the New York Assembly asked President Trump late Tuesday to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reveal the actual number of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus during the early months of the pandemic.
“We write to you as a last-ditch effort for assistance to obtain the long sought after COVID-19 data New York families and good government groups have been seeking for months,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Trump on Tuesday evening.
“New York counts its COVID-19 deaths unlike any other state,” they said.
An analysis published in the Associated Press back in August found that at that time, the true nursing home death toll was likely double what was reported because if a nursing home patient with coronavirus was transported to a hospital, it wouldn’t be counted as a nursing home death. “For all 43 states that break out nursing home data, resident deaths make up 44% of total COVID deaths in their states, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Assuming the same proportion held in New York, that would translate to more than 11,000 nursing home deaths” they noted.
Cuomo has gone from making excuses for his terrible decision making to complete denial.
In an interview to the Finger Lakes News Radio in September, Cuomo argued that his nursing home policy had nothing to do with nursing home deaths. “That’s not why they lost a loved one. The premise of your question is just factually wrong,” Cuomo said to an inquiring host. “People who were lost in nursing homes were lost because that’s where the virus preys.”
He continued, “And we never needed nursing homes, because we always had hospital beds. So it just never happened in New York, where we said to a nursing home ‘we need you to take this person and they’re COVID positive.’ We had extra beds.”
Contradicting Cuomo is the second sentence of the nursing home order, which reads “There is an urgent need to expand hospital capacity in New York State to be able to meet the demand for patients with COVID-19 requiring acute care.” The order also said all nursing homes “must comply with the expedited receipt of residents returning from hospitals to” nursing homes, and New York was the only state that barred testing of patients discharged to them.