Cuomo: Nursing Home Staff Are Responsible for the Debacle

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Posted: Feb 15, 2021 3:50 PM
Cuomo: Nursing Home Staff Are Responsible for the Debacle

Source: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday attempted to spin a new report from New York Attorney General Letitia James that said the number of COVID-related fatalities in state nursing homes were underreported by as much as 50 percent. 

According to Cuomo, COVID outbreaks in nursing homes weren't a result of his directive to move COVID-positive patients from hospitals into the homes. Instead, he had multiple "theories" about what took place. 

1. Cuomo said staff were responsible for the outbreaks.

"Fact: of the 613 nursing homes – we have 613 nursing homes in the state – 365 received a person from a hospital. Of the 365 that received a person from this March 25th guidance, which was then superseded in May, 98 percent of those 365 already had COVID in their facilities," Cuomo said. "COVID did not get into the nursing homes from people coming from hospitals. COVID got into the nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing home." 

2. COVID deaths weren't underreported.

Of course, he also emphasized that all deaths, both in nursing homes and hospitals, were always reported and available to the public.

"To be clear, all the deaths in the nursing homes and in the hospitals were always fully publicly and accurately reported. The numbers were the numbers. Always," he said.

The governor said New York State Department of Health "fully and publicly" reported all nursing home and hospital deaths.

"They have always been fully reported," Cuomo reiterated. "Nursing homes had the most vulnerable populations. We know that. Nationwide, 36 percent of the [COVID-related] deaths are in nursing homes. You know what percent of the population are in nursing homes? One percent. One percent are 36 percent of the deaths. New York is 34th in total nursing home deaths, 34 out of 50 states," he said.

3. Nursing home staff "presumed" patients died with COVID.

Cuomo then went on to talk about the state's "presumed fatalities," where staff makes the determination the patient died from the coronavirus instead of knowing definitively. 

"New York is only one of seven states with 'presumed fatalities,' where the nursing home presumes the cause of death," he said.

Cuomo expects all of us to believe that his directive to put COVID-positive patients in nursing homes is believable simply because he said so. The guy can't even come up with one solid story and stick to it. Is it the staff's fault for bringing the virus into the nursing homes? Or is it the staff's fault for using "presumed fatalities" when someone died? Or maybe it's the fact that the AG's report is wrong?

At least if Cuomo is going to attempt to use political spin to get him out of this – which won't work – he should do a better job of picking a story and sticking to it. But blaming frontline health care workers is a new low, even for Cuomo.