The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Dumb and Dumber: How Cuomo and De Blasio Ruined New York.”
If New York were its own country, it would have more coronavirus deaths per capita than any other in the entire world.
At the center of Andrew Cuomo’s litany of errors is his now infamous “March 25 advisory” issued to nursing home administrators, directors of nursing, and hospital discharge planners.
The order put nursing homes in the position where they’d be forced to treat those infected with coronavirus. With that fact alone one can immediately see how such a policy would cause mass death. While a sane individual would prioritize the safety of the elderly against a virus that disproportionately kills the elderly, logic was lost on the Cuomo administration.
The rules were simple; that if a hospital determined that a patient who could be sent to a nursing home was stable, the home had no choice but to take them. As many as 4,500 patients infected with coronavirus were sent to nursing homes.
What could possibly go wrong? Everything.
As ProPublica noted in their June 16th report excoriating Cuomo’s policy:
In the weeks that followed the March 25 order, COVID-19 tore through New York state’s nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people — about 6% of its more than 100,000 nursing home residents.
States that issued orders similar to Cuomo’s recorded comparably grim outcomes. Michigan lost 5 percent of roughly 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19 since the outbreak began. New Jersey lost 12 percent of its more than 43,000 residents.
In Florida, where such transfers were barred, just 1.6 percent of 73,000 nursing home residents died of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Republican County Executive of Rensselaer County rightly saw Cuomo’s advice as absurd and defied it. The only nursing home run by the county saw a total of zero coronavirus deaths.
Cuomo Plays Defense.
After roughly 6,000 of New York’s nursing home residents had died, Cuomo was asked on May 20th about calls for a federal probe into the state’s handling of the coronavirus.
In character for a Democrat in the modern era, Cuomo took the default position of blaming President Donald Trump for his mess. “Anyone who wants to ask why the state did that with COVID patients in nursing homes, it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC’s guidance,” Cuomo said. “So they should ask President Trump.”
It must be noted that nearly all the states that had similarly disastrous nursing home policies were run by Democrats, so it would certainly be odd for only Democrat leaders to head the advice of Trump’s CDC and then turn around and blame Trump for taking his advice.
Regardless, there’s no need to “ask President Trump” anything because Cuomo’s defense is a lie he knows he can get away with because no one in the media will fact check him.
In the CDC’s guidance Cuomo is referencing, issued two days before his March 25th order, the CDC cited two key factors to determine if a patient with coronavirus should be discharged to a nursing home. Those factors were if the patient is medically ready for the discharge, and if the nursing home can safely care for an infected patient by implementing all recommended protocols to stop spread of the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is the federal regulator of nursing homes, also issued guidance – and says that Cuomo didn’t follow it. The CMS’ top administrator made it clear that nursing homes were only to accept those patients for which they can care (as per guidance the CMS issued on March 13th). They would later say a week after Cuomo’s order that new long-term care patients should be screened for coronavirus testing “if available.” CMS guidance also states that nursing homes should dedicate a specific wing exclusively to returning residents to quarantine for 14 days.
And Cuomo’s guidance didn’t allow for that. As previously mentioned, New York was the only state that prevented testing of those being placed or returning to nursing homes.
It’s for reasons like these that the AMDA-Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine issued a statement on March 26 opposing the order: “We find the New York State Advisory to be over-reaching, not consistent with science, unenforceable, and beyond all, not in the least consistent with patient safety principles.”
The Nursing Home Death Toll Remains Unknown.
When it comes to the true nursing home death toll, New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker does not have an answer. Upon being pressed about it by the New York State Assembly and Senate at a hearing he said he would “get back” to them (which is a polite way of saying that he won’t get back to them).
An Associated Press report noted that New York is the only state that only counts residents who died on nursing home property from coronavirus and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there as nursing home deaths.
In other states, nursing home resident deaths make up 44 percent of total coronavirus nursing home deaths, which would imply an additional 11,000 nursing home deaths in New York if that percent holds constant (and in reality, it’s probably larger).
In response to all the concern over the true number of nursing home deaths, Cuomo laughably claims that there’s no need for any independent investigation into that – and says that you’d “have to be blind” to not think calls for such an investigation are anything but political.