Andrew Cuomo's Nursing Home Policy Facts
By Anna Lynn and James Agresti
On Wednesday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a factually misleading statement on ABC's The View for the thousands of people who died from Covid-19 in nursing homes in New York.
After co-moderator Sunny Hostin Cuomo's book Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic praised it as "absolutely fantastic", she said to the governor:
There has been much confusion over an alleged March 25 order directing nursing homes to admit infected Covid patients in New York, potentially resulting in the deaths of more than 6,000 seniors. Now in your book you say that this was a lie – that New York State never required or directed that a nursing home accept a Covid-positive patient. However, the Ministry of Justice should now deal with this issue. Can you explain what really happened?
Yes, what a shock that the Injustice Department sends a letter a few days before an election to advance a political theory. I was shocked and amazed that the Trump administration was able to do this. Sunny, you were in politics from day one, right? You have done a terrible job in Covid from day one and want a counter defense. They said, “Well, a lot of people died in nursing homes in democratic states. It's not just New York, it's all democratic states. "
The truth is that many people have died in nursing homes in democratic countries. The truth is, people are dying in nursing homes in Republican states today. It's just that democratic states got the disease worse and earlier and older people are more prone to Covid, right? We were presented to Covid in a nursing home in Washington state.
If you look at the number of people who have died in New York nursing homes, New York ranks 46th out of 50 states for the percentage of nursing home deaths. The way the law works is that no New York nursing home can accept a patient if they do not believe they can adequately care for that patient and if they can do so within the safety of their facility.
So the conspiracy they are trying to spread has no factual basis. But yes, people in nursing homes have died and they are playing politics with the subject, which I find particularly cruel because people who have lost loved ones in a nursing home have to deal with it and now they have to deal with the confusion or the pain the government perhaps did.
Hostin's choice of words and Cuomo's entire statement are inconsistent with the facts of the matter. The order of the Cuomo government of March 25th is not "alleged" but a fact. In this order it is explicitly stated:
No resident may be denied readmission or admission to the NH (nursing home) solely on the basis of a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a medically stable hospital resident to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.
This mandate was in direct contradiction to two key scientific facts about C-19 that have been widely known since the beginning of the pandemic:
- The elderly and those with chronic ailments, who is precisely the definition of nursing home residents, are extremely susceptible to the virus.
- The virus is highly transmissible and can therefore easily penetrate large groups of sick and / or elderly people living together.
Including an estimated 18 days between infection and death, more than 5,900 nursing home patients in NY were lost when Cuomo repealed this rule. The fact that Cuomo has rescinded that mandate refutes his claim that it did no harm.
Additionally, Cuomo's statistics on nursing home deaths in New York are very understated, as his Department of Health excluded people who contracted the disease in a nursing home but died "outside the facility." Cuomo's "official" number can underestimate the real number by thousands of deaths.
While declining requests for an independent investigation, Cuomo has repeatedly blamed others for the nursing home slaughter in his state, but none of his statements include water:
- Cuomo initially criticized nursing homes, stating that they would only have to readmit C-19 patients "if they are able to provide an adequate level of care". Cuomo's command:
- The underlined text clearly states: "No resident may be refused admission or admission to the NH (nursing home) solely on the basis of a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19."
- Often times, households have found it impossible to know whether they could provide adequate care by forbidding them to “request that a medically stable hospital resident be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission”.
- Never mentioned or implied that it is illegal under NY state law for nursing homes to accept someone they cannot properly care for.
- Cuomo then claimed that his order "followed President Trump's CDC guidance," but the truth is that those guidance:
- does not recommend bringing C-19 patients to nursing homes.
- states that C-19 patients "should go to a facility with adequate personal protective equipment and the ability to adhere to infection prevention …".
- Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo's top advisor, later said his policy was “directly in line with the directions of the Trump administration's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), but quite the opposite:
- 12 days before Cuomo's order, CMS warned households "must be vigilant to identify potentially infected people" and "follow CDC guidelines".
- CMS administrator Seema Verma responded directly to DeRosa's allegations, stating that the CMS was "clear and unmistakable," that nursing homes should reject people who cannot care for them, and that "any suggestion to the contrary, at best, pathetically wrong and im worst case scenario is dishonest. ”
- After that, Cuomo claimed NY "let more people die" because the Trump administration "missed the boat and never told us this virus originated in Europe and not China". In reality, on the same day the World Health Organization declared C-19 a pandemic (March 11), the Trump administration imposed a near-total travel ban from Europe. However, Cuomo didn't announce an order for a stay at home until more than a week later, on March 20.
- Finally, Cuomo's Ministry of Health released a report blaming nursing homes, claiming its policies were not a "major contributor" to deaths. The report:
- The association is misinterpreted as a cause, arguing that a "link between when staff was infected and deaths in nursing homes" proves that nursing home staff transmitted the virus to residents.
- uses an incorrect measure of timing based on the number of homes with an infected employee instead of the actual number of infected employees.
- uses grossly incomplete data that excludes residents who contracted the virus in nursing homes but died "outside of the facility," a number that could number in the thousands.
Given the proven scientific facts and crystal clear guidance from federal health officials, Cuomo forced C-19 carriers close to the people most susceptible to the virus.
Cuomo and his deputies then used a series of lies to blame others for his policies. Now he is accusing people who would hold him accountable for his actions.
Anna Lynn is a writer and researcher at Just Facts, a think tank dedicated to publishing strictly documented public policy facts. James D. Agresti is the President of Just Facts.