For the past several months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been dogged by repeated questions about the March 25, 2020 directive from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) that required nursing homes to admit patients with COVID-19. Despite intense media scrutiny, this DOH directive remained in effect for 46 days; during that time, New York’s nursing home residents and staff were ravaged by the coronavirus. Since the onset of the pandemic, 6,300 New York nursing home residents have died from COVID-19. This total represents one-quarter of the Empire State’s overall death toll.
Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for the devastating state of affairs at New York’s nursing homes. Instead, the Governor has sought to pin the blame on nursing homes themselves, on the federal Centers for Disease Control, and (of course) on President Donald Trump.
On Monday, July 6, the DOH released a self-serving report arguing that New York’s nursing home deaths were not attributable to the March 25 DOH directive. Instead, the report points the finger at nursing home staff and nursing home visitors. Thankfully, lawmakers from both parties aren’t buying this. According to Spectrum News, Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) blasted the Governor, stating that “‘Governor Cuomo and his Department of Health Commissioner’s continual attempts to distort reality are an insult to every New Yorker who lost a mother, father, grandma, grandpa, or other loved one in a nursing home, long-term care, or assisted living facility.’” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) has repeatedly asked for hearings to be held regarding COVID-19 in nursing homes, and he isn’t the only one; on July 7, Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) stated that public hearings on this issue were needed.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms calls on the Senate and Assembly Health Committees to hold public hearings on COVID-19 in nursing homes in the very near future. A full and independent investigation of this heartbreaking situation is needed, both to find out the truth and to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.