New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing more criticism about his order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients after he published a book this fall praising himself for his handling of the pandemic.
This week, ProPublica, a left-leaning investigative news publication, criticized the Democrat governor for failing to be transparent about the nursing home deaths in New York.
“Cuomo’s new book on leadership, published as the pandemic continues to ravage America, touts his willingness to speak hard truths about the pandemic,” it wrote. “Why then has he still not said how many nursing home residents perished on his watch?”
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 Tuesday afternoon, New York had 34,341 reported deaths.
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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. He reversed the order several weeks later. Despite months of criticism and bipartisan calls for an investigation, the state still has not announced the number of nursing home deaths.
Cuomo’s new book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was released in October. In it, he touts himself as a strong leader while blasting President Donald Trump as “ignorant, incompetent, dishonest and more concerned with public relations spin than saving lives,” according to ProPublica.
In doing so, however, Cuomo appears to be trying to shift the blame away from himself.
It is not clear how many people in New York died in nursing homes because they were exposed to COVID-19 patients who were placed in the same facilities under Cuomo’s order. Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized Cuomo and his administration for its lack of transparency.
Here’s more from the report:
“The governor has time, in the middle of a pandemic, to write a book on the COVID-19 crisis, but after months of delay he has not delivered on his word to provide the legislature with the accurate numbers of nursing home deaths,” said Ron Kim, a Democratic state legislator from Queens. “As a result, we are squandering away an opportunity to demonstrate how his government can be there to respond to this crisis.”
To date, Cuomo has only publicly acknowledged nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 inside their residences, some 6,500 people. While other states have all along combined those deaths with those of nursing home residents who died at hospitals, and made those totals public, New York has not.
In the book, Cuomo defended the order by calling it guidance rather than a strict policy; he also argued that the policy was not the reason for the state’s high death toll, the report states.
But many New Yorkers want answers. According to the report, the Empire Center for Public Policy recently filed a lawsuit demanding that the state release its data on nursing home deaths.
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.
But Cuomo is not alone. 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.”
Earlier this week, the watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com released evidence that Cuomo received campaign donations from hospital groups that lobbied him to enact the nursing home policy, according to the New York Post.