Andrew Cuomo Deflects Blame for Thousands of Nursing Home Deaths: “Ask President Trump”

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2020   |   11:07AM   |   Albany, New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the order that sealed their fate, but he is now attempting to deflect blame for killing thousands of nursing home residents who perished because he signed an order requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients.

In March, as the coronavirus crisis broke, pro-life leaders urged state and federal leaders to protect people who are elderly and have disabilities from medical discrimination. Instead, Cuomo signed the order on March 25 that has resulted in thousands of deaths in nursing homes.

People who live in nursing homes, including the elderly and people with disabilities, are at greater risk of dying from the virus; and Cuomo’s order led many to question whether it would do more harm than good. But it wasn’t until over 5,000 seniors died that Cuomo finally reversed the order on May 11.

And now he’s trying to blame President Trump:

First Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed nursing homes for a widely criticized directive from his Health Department barring the facilities from turning away coronavirus-positive people — now he’s pawning it off on the White House.

Critics should “ask President Trump” about it, the governor said Wednesday, arguing that the federal government actually cooked up the mandate — and that New York was just following Washington’s lead.

“Anyone who wants to ask, ‘Why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes,’ it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance,” Cuomo told reporters in Albany who pressed him on whether he had any regrets about the directive, which may have played a role in the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents.

“They should ask President Trump. I think that will stop the conversation,” he repeated.

Cuomo tried to blame other states as well, saying New York’s order was no different than some states. Yet states like Pennsylvania that had similar orders have seen a large number of nursing home deaths as well, while states like Florid have not because pro-life Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis did not issue that kind of mandate.

DeSantis prohibited visitations to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In addition, Gov. DeSantis prohibited nursing homes and long-term care facilities to [allow] COVID-19 patients who were discharged from hospitals to be returned to their facilities. He established COVID-19 dedicated nursing homes. In addition, he required comprehensive screening of staff and vendors entering these long-term care facilities. Testing and contact tracing was a priority for all Florida residents in addition to providing precious PPE [personal protective equipment]. Impeding those who were fleeing from other states where there was community spread of this virus was also important.

Elaine Mazzotta, a nurse whose mother died last month of suspected COVID-19 at a Long Island nursing home, blames Cuomo for issuing the order.

“The way this has been handled by the state is totally irresponsible, negligent and stupid,” she said. “They knew better. They shouldn’t have sent these people into nursing homes.”

Norbert Michel, director of the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that Cuomo really is to blame.

“The nursing home policy [in New York] was insane. The state was basically sending someone to an early grave. … If it is the case that the infection was already widespread before anyone knew about it, the state was still literally sending people back into it,” he said.

And nursing homes opposed Cuomo’s order.

The Long Term Care Community Coalition in New York opposed the Cuomo policy of sending COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes.

Similarly, the American Medical Directors Association, in a March 26 statement, said: “Unsafe transfers will increase the risk of transmission in post-acute and long-term care facilities, which will ultimately only serve to increase the return flow back to hospitals, overwhelming capacity, endangering more healthcare personnel, and escalating the death rate.”

Whether Cuomo’s policy was an oversight, stupid or criminal, Connecticut’s Governor Lamont got it right when he said: “I think, especially in a crisis, the buck stops right here.” But Cuomo won’t take responsibility.