For months Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean has been trying to tell her tragic story. Her in-laws, Mickey and Dee Newman, died in separate New York elder care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. She has made no secret of the fact that she blames Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his nursing home mandate, which forced facilities to accept recovering COVID patients. Over 6,000 COVID patients were reportedly sent to elder care homes over the course of 46 days. When New York lawmakers began hearings on the subject, Dean was ready to testify. But the New York State Senate didn't want to hear it. A few days before the first meeting was set to begin, her name was taken off of the witness list. She later found out that was because the Democratic majority would have been too "uncomfortable" with her testimony.
New York Republicans gave her the chance to speak on Monday, and through a painful amount of tears she managed to get through it.
Mickey and Dee's health had been declining for some time before they went into elder care facilities, Dean explained. It was "the first time in their lives they had been apart like this." Mickey's facility went into quarantine in March and she was notified that he'd be moved to a different floor to make way for a new crop of patients. Dean says that she now believes that some of those new patients were ones recovering from COVID. Some days later the staff called her husband to notify him that his dad was sick. He had a fever, and three hours later he was dead. They were told it was likely a result of coronavirus.
"We only got confirmation when we saw it on the death certificate," she said.
Dean recalls how her husband Sean had to break the news to his ailing mother. He would later visit her, but had to stand ten feet away with a mask on, telling her he loved her.
"He would never see her again," Dean said as she choked up.
Dean said that her husband recalled how, in his mother's facility, workers were getting coffee without masks on, and they were allowing residents to roam freely. The last thing Dee asked of her son before she died was to get Easter gifts for the kids and put her name on the presents.
"Elder care homes were turned into death traps."
Her death was not counted as a nursing home death because she died in the hospital. New York, Dean fumed, is the only state who doesn't count deaths in the proper way.
As for New York Democrats being "uncomfortable" with her story, she suggested that "it's the cover up they're uncomfortable with."
"If anyone has the right to feel uncomfortable, it's the thousands of family members who lost loved ones," she insisted.
Mickey and Dee were the definition of what Andrew Cuomo calls "New York tough," and yet he treated them as just numbers on a curve, Dean said. She concluded by demanding a full outside investigation into the nursing home tragedy, with subpoena powers.
Following Dean was witness Jennifer Harrison, who spoke warmly of her late step grandmother, who was on her way to a "well deserved" 100th birthday. But she too succumbed to COVID in a nursing home. To make matters worse, she says that her family was "lied to" and treated in a "despicable" manner.
Harrison didn't learn until two weeks after the fact that her step grandmother had contracted COVID, and it was by "complete accident" when the billing department sent her a notice regarding her COVID treatment.
"I was caught completely off guard and had to get answers from a billing clerk," Harrison shared.
And that clerk could only tell by the codes she was reading that her step grandmother had COVID. She died not long after that.
The facility could have made the situation somewhat more tolerable by expressing their condolences to the family, but Harrison said they couldn't even manage to do that. She said the staff called her with a "cold, short, and nasty" message that her loved one had died and asked her to come get her that night. Not "I'm sorry for your loss," just those few stark words.
Like Harrison, witness JoAnn Williams said she was offered no condolences when she learned her father had died. The staff just wanted to know when she would be able to pick up his belongings.
"I am furious," Williams said. "I cannot grieve properly."
All Williams has left of her father, she said, is an urn and a photograph.