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Cuomo Defends Nursing Home Policy: 'Older People, Vulnerable People Are Going to Die'

Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP

New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is under fire for his disastrous policy of sending elderly Wuhan coronavirus patients to nursing homes. President Trump even approved a temporary hospital at New York City's Javitz Center to house and treat coronavirus patients. The president also sent a floating hospital packed with emergency supplies to New York to make additional space. But with a fawning press behind him, Gov. Cuomo decided in all his wisdom that elderly people, sick and contagious with the Wuhan coronavirus, should be sent instead to nursing homes full of other elderly, vulnerable people. The policy went on for weeks. The press was probably too busy looking for bad news about hydroxychloroquine to question the governor's deadly directive. 

"He worked it out so we always had available beds. Nobody was deprived of a bed or medical coverage in any way," Gov. Cuomo said on Sunday in defense of his nursing home policy. "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."

A March 25 state mandate required nursing homes to admit suspected or diagnosed cases of the coronavirus. The ill-conceived mandate even prohibited nursing homes from requiring a coronavirus test for incoming hospital transfers. Cuomo only reversed the policy after mounting criticism earlier this month. 

"The way this has been handled by the state is totally irresponsible, negligent and stupid," Elaine Mazzotta, who lost her mother from a suspected COVID-19 infection at a Long Island nursing home, told the Associated Press. "They knew better. They shouldn’t have sent these people into nursing homes."

NPR reported last month that more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in New York state happened in nursing homes. NPR also analyzed data from 11 New York nursing homes with the highest number of deaths and found the majority of those nursing homes had a disproportionate number of minorities.

While the governor was telling young, healthy people to save lives by staying home, his administration was sending coronavirus patients to nursing homes. In April, Cuomo responded to reopen protesters by saying it was "no time to act stupid." He should have followed his own advice. 

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