It sure seems that way, especially to the Republican lawmakers trying to bring the conversation back to nursing homes. New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker was a no show at Monday's Joint Public Hearing on COVID-19's Impact on Residential Healthcare facilities and other long-term care settings. That may have been because he gave a poor performance at last week's hearing, where he failed to even provide the number of nursing home residents who had died in the hospital. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been in hot water for months after mandating that nursing homes must accept COVID patients back on March 25, with most agreeing that policy led to thousands of fatalities.
Of course, not the New York State Department of Health, whose report concluded that the governor's measure had no "significant" impact on nursing home deaths.
Zucker did show up for questions at Wednesday's legislative hearing, but he gave more non-answers when Republican lawmakers asked about the nursing homes.
"We did discuss all of this the last time I was here," Zucker dismissively told state senator Patrick Gallivan.
And it seemed like the Democrats were doing their best to try and shield him from those tough questions.
The organizers of this hearing seem to have agreed *not* to push Zucker on nursing homes.— Bill Hammond (@NYHammond) August 12, 2020
Gallivan asked about discharges from hospitals to nursing homes, and Gottfried interrupted to say "We're really trying to focus in this hearing on hospitals and not nursing homes."
They could only conclude that the Democrats had conspired before the meeting to agree to avoid the topic, perhaps hoping to shield the Cuomo administration from wrongdoing.
They clearly do NOT want to talk about it. 53,000 total hospital beds minus 18,000 peak occupancy (both figures per Zucker) leaves 35,000 beds. What am I missing here? Why over 6,000 patients forced back to nursing homes where we knew COVID would spread "fire thru dry grass"— Tom O'Mara (@SenatorOMara) August 12, 2020
Data provided by the state revealed that 6,000 people have died in New York nursing homes in the pandemic. But a new report from the Associated Press concludes that number is a severe undercount.
One more indication that the Democrat-led panel didn't want to hear the whole truth was when they disinvited Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean from in-person testimony on Monday. She lost both of her in-laws to COVID in New York nursing homes and has been very vocal about how Cuomo's policy was a major catalyst for their deaths. She was told she'd be able to tell her story this week, but at the eleventh hour, she was informed that her name had been taken off the list. In an emotional interview on "Fox & Friends" the next day, Dean explained that she never asked to be in this position and that she's not a political person. She just wants justice.
And she believes the first step is an independent investigation into the nursing home tragedy. Perhaps not wanting to know what they'll find, Gov. Cuomo says that kind of probe is unnecessary.