Cuomo: Actually, New York's Deadly Nursing Home Policies Weren't My Fault Because...

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 10:25 AM

It's a bona fide scandal that cost thousands of New Yorkers their lives -- and the craven, buck-passing governor won't stop digging. Media darling Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has repeatedly invoked an incoherent talking point this week in a shameless effort to side-step criticism over his disastrous policies on COVID-19 and nursing homes, blaming the federal government for not telling him that the virus was arriving from both Europe and China. The excuse makes absolutely no sense any way you look at it, but it's what he's going with because he's got nothing else:

First, he blames the feds for bad overall guidance on this front. Even if you take that claim at face value (CMS says he's wrong), states like Florida somehow managed to set up much better systems, very early on, that protected those highly vulnerable facilities. How does Cuomo account for that? Second, he says that while the raw number of deaths in New York's nursing homes is the highest of any state, his state's percentage of nursing home deaths is lower than other places. I'll remind you that New York wasn't even tabulating this category of deaths "well into April" (see below), then changed their counting "rules" to minimize this death column in early May (long term care residents who got deathly ill in those facilities, but physically died in ambulances or hospitals, were excluded as deaths in this category). In short, the "official" number -- which is still the highest in the nation -- is likely considerably lower than the grim reality, apparently by design. Cuomo created this garbage talking point for himself by manipulating the statistics. I'll also remind you that when the catastrophic policy was lifted, New York tried to scrub its previous existence off the internet. If he's been asked about any of this, I haven't seen it.

Third, what on earth does his "but the virus was also coming in from Europe" gripe have to do with anything? The virus originated in China, then came to the US from both east and west. That was also true for states other New York, including jurisdictions that have handled the nursing home challenge far better than the Empire State's bumbling and incompetent leadership has. And how does the logic follow anyway? If he'd known there were cases flowing into the US from Europe, he...wouldn't have forced nursing homes to grant access to COVID-positive residents?  One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. And as Allahpundit notes, New York's plan -- which, again, is totally untethered to the irrelevant Asia/Europe question -- was even worse than you think:

His order on March 25 didn’t just require nursing homes to reaccept infected patients, a measure designed to free up beds in hospitals for the expected surge. It also required them to accept new residents even if they had been treated for COVID-19 — and it couldn’t test them to see if they were still infected when they arrived. But it gets worse: "A complicating factor in evaluating the effect of the March 25 directive is that the state Health Department did not track in real time what happened when COVID-19 patients were transferred from hospitals to nursing homes. One senior nursing home industry official said the state Health Department didn’t even begin comprehensively counting COVID-19 deaths in these facilities until well into April, although the department has disputed that claim." The policy lasted for nearly two disastrous months because Cuomo’s health department just wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in nursing homes. When all was said and done, the state lost six percent of its nursing-home population. Note: Not six percent of nursing-home residents who tested positive, six percent of the entire state nursing-home population. (In New Jersey, which followed a similar policy, it was 12 percent.) 

None of that -- none of it -- was impacted by the Europe vs. China "issue." As one writer succinctly described this nonsensical spin, "we stacked people in old folks homes because we thought the disease was coming from China.” What? If Cuomo wants to argue that the feds should've flagged COVID's arrival from Europe sooner in order to allow states like his to screen differently, possibly slowing community spread, that's one thing. But mandating that nursing homes admit COVID-positive residents into facilities that were packed with vulnerable elderly people, and permitting confirmed COVID-positive employees to come into work, were colossal, lethal, obvious, and avoidable mistakes. Try as he might, there's no deflecting away from those damning realities.

The fact that Cuomo won't even admit the error in retrospect is frightening. "He’s flailing here because he has nothing credible to say in defense of his nursing-home policy," AP concludes. "It was an egregious mistake with egregious life-and-death consequences. There’s no way to spin it." I'll leave you with Cuomo conceding that people purporting to oppose racism by tearing down statues sometimes run the risk of "overdoing it," but referring to the general practice as a "healthy expression" of resetting "priorities:"