Posted by Curt on 29 August, 2020 at 7:13 pm. 3 comments already!



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resisted inquiries by the press and his own Democratic Legislature into how his policy of returning Covid-19 patients to nursing homes contributed to an untold number of elderly deaths. But New Yorkers may finally get an honest accounting thanks to the Trump Justice Department.

Justice on Wednesday sent letters to Mr. Cuomo and the governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey requesting virus data from their nursing homes. DOJ says it wants to determine whether the states’ orders “requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.”

To recap: Mr. Cuomo decreed on March 25 that “no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home]” because of a virus diagnosis. And he prohibited homes “from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested” for the virus before admission. The other governors issued similar orders.

They were understandably worried that hospitals would be overwhelmed, so they pushed to discharge elderly patients as soon as they were medically stable. But as it turned out, 15% of New York hospital beds and 10% of its intensive-care units remained unoccupied at the Covid-19 peak. Other states also had spare capacity.

Yet Mr. Cuomo continued to send recovering Covid patients back to nursing homes even when there were plenty of surge beds—both in a U.S. Navy hospital ship, and the Javits Center hospital that the Trump Administration built. A Brooklyn nursing home on April 9 asked the state to transfer vulnerable patients to these field hospitals. Mr. Cuomo said no.

He finally rescinded his order on May 10, but he has denied that it contributed to the virus’s spread in nursing homes or to New York’s high death rate—which is second only to New Jersey’s and four times higher than Texas’s. An apologia last month by his Department of Health claimed New York’s share of nursing home deaths of all fatalities was the lowest in the country. This is dishonest.

Mr. Cuomo’s administration has reported only deaths that occur while in the nursing homes (6,600) while other states report the total number of nursing-home residents who die. Many die in hospitals. A nursing home in the Bronx said the state counted only four of its 21 resident deaths. The Associated Press has reported that state health department surveys show there are 13,000 more empty nursing home beds this year than expected.

Mr. Cuomo’s report claims nursing-home deaths peaked on April 8, but this seems unlikely. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that hospitalizations in New York among those over age 85 remained high through early May while declining among other age groups. (See nearby chart.)

Mr. Cuomo also claims his policy followed CDC guidance, but this too is false. CDC guidance in March stated patients shouldn’t return to nursing homes that can’t safely care for them. His own report noted that 20,000 nursing home workers were known to be infected by the end of April. If workers were sick or quarantined, far better to have sent convalescing patients to the Javits Center.

Democrat Richard Gottfried, the chair of the New York Assembly health committee, called on an outside entity to investigate the nursing homes since Mr. Cuomo’s Health Department and the state Attorney General may be conflicted. “The problems in our nursing homes were there long before Covid-19—problems like inadequate staffing, inadequate enforcement,” he said.

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