The New York State Department of Health concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nursing home order did not play a significant role in the thousands of nursing home facility deaths in the state since the coronavirus outbreak. The study was created after weeks of backlash about the governor's mandate, which forced nursing home facilities to accept COVID-positive patients. It turns out they did, over 6,000 times. And thousands of residents died in New York nursing homes in the past few months since the order went into effect.
The 33-page report gets right to the point: The nursing home staffers were to blame.
According to data submitted by nursing homes, in many cases under the penalty of perjury, approximately 37,500 nursing home staff members—one in four of the state’s approximately 158,000 nursing home workers—were infected with COVID-19 between March and early June 2020. Of the 37,500 nursing home staff infected, nearly 7,000 of them were working in facilities in the month of March; during the same period, more than a third of the state’s nursing home facilities had residents ill with the virus. Roughly 20,000 infected nursing home workers were known to be COVID-positive by the end of the month of April.
Based on the NYSDOH's research on the timing of the infections, they conclude it's "likely that thousands of employees who were infected in mid-March transmitted the virus unknowingly—through no fault of their own—while working, which then led to resident infection."
Reporters take issue with some of the health department's methods and don't buy that Cuomo's dangerous directive had any impact on the spread of COVID in these vulnerable communities.
The “peak mortality” in nursing homes mentioned in the report might not account for NH residents who died at a hospital since deaths among residents are counted as those who died in the facility, not outside of it.— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) July 6, 2020
The true scope of how many NH residents died is still unknown
Who is being counted and how could very much throw a wrench in the Department of Health’s conclusion that the March 25 directive was “not a driver.”— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) July 6, 2020
Unless we know the exact methodology, this “report” is just the state Dept. of Health validating itself.
Lawmakers aren't buying it either, dismissing the report entirely because it amounted to little more than the Cuomo administration investigating themselves and giving themselves a pat on the back. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) called it "a corrupt conflict of interest and self-serving cover-up."
Cuomo's team argues that the health department's report was "peer reviewed" by health experts, to which Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost both of her in-laws to a COVID-infected New York nursing home, replied:
If you’re so certain that this “investgation” by your boss is so perfect, you won’t mind if someone else other than your boss tries to get some real answers as to why thousands of seniors died and why he forced 6,000 Covid patients into nursing homes for 46 days straight.— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) July 7, 2020
New York lawmakers - Republican and Democrat - are calling for an independent investigation into the nursing home tragedy.
New York Post contributor Michael Goodwin penned a forceful essay about Gov. Cuomo's abusive treatment of nursing homes. He knows how it feels to be blamed for those thousands of fatalities, considering the Post was on the governor's list of culprits he's blamed for his own mess. But Cuomo's attempt to blame nursing home staff and even family members for the tombstones is "simply scandalous," Goodwin writes.