New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing more criticism for his disastrous coronavirus nursing home policy this week after a watchdog group discovered that the Democrat governor received campaign donations from hospital groups that lobbied him to enact it.
New York has the highest COVID-19 death count and the second highest death rate in the U.S. According to NBC News, as of Monday morning, New York had 34,322 reported deaths.
However, Cuomo has refused to take responsibility for the high death numbers, which many have linked to his March 25 order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID patients.
Now, new information suggests the policy may have been a political favor to his campaign donors.
“Gov. Cuomo forced nursing homes to take COVID patients, then wrote a book praising his own pandemic actions. Now we find he got campaign donations from the hospital bodies that lobbied for his lethal policy,” New York Post writer Miranda Devine wrote on Twitter.
The watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com recently conducted an audit of donations to Cuomo’s political campaigns and found links to the groups that supported the nursing home policy, according to Devine’s article.
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This included $1 million from the Greater New York Hospital Association in 2018, according to the watchdog group.
Here’s more from the report:
The association and the health-care workers union, 1199 SEIU, also spent $5.9 million lobbying in Albany in 2018. …
When the pandemic hit in March, the association successfully lobbied the Cuomo administration to transfer COVID-positive patients to nursing homes to relieve pressure on hospitals.
Despite warnings from doctors that the move represented “a clear and present danger” to other nursing home residents, Cuomo issued his directive March 25, while federally provided beds in the Javits Center and USNS Comfort hospital ship mainly lay empty.
Later, the hospital association spent millions of dollars on ads praising the way Cuomo handled the virus, according to OpenTheBooks.com.
Janice Dean, a senior meteorologist at Fox News, has been a leading critic of Cuomo after both her in-laws died from the coronavirus in March in assisted living and nursing home facilities in New York.
“Here’s one hard truth Cuomo has still yet to tell: how many nursing home residents have died of COVID-19. 9 months into the pandemic, and three months after his health commissioner testified that he was hard at work counting NH deaths, Cuomo has not announced the grim total,” Dean wrote on Twitter Monday.
She believes Cuomo’s order led to her in-laws’ and other loved ones’ deaths. And she has been calling for an investigation, The Federalist reported last week.
Dean said Cuomo’s order should be a huge story, but few are reporting about it.
“Twenty percent of our lost loved ones are from nursing homes. And, it’s because Governor Cuomo, and several other governors, by the way, in different states, forced COVID-recovering patients into nursing homes,” she said.
Four other Democrat governors also ordered nursing homes to take coronavirus patients: New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan. These five states have some of the highest nursing home death numbers, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In early June, AARP reported more than 43,000 nursing home residents and staff died from the virus, representing more than one third of all known deaths in the U.S. at the time.
“While dire, this figure is an undercount, experts warn, because not all states are publicly reporting data yet,” according to AARP. “In many states, more than half of coronavirus deaths are connected to long-term care facilities.”
Like so many others, Dean said she wants to know why the governor put vulnerable nursing home patients at risk, why he did not use the other makeshift hospitals for COVID-19 patients instead and why the state still has not released the total number of nursing-home deaths linked to the virus.
“This is not political. It’s about accountability @NYGovCuomo,” she wrote on Twitter. “We won’t stop.”