Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday addressed the mounting criticisms over his administration’s handling of the Chinese coronavirus — particularly the fallout from his state’s controversial March 25 directive and the recent revelation that his administration hid the true fatality figures out of fear of a federal investigation — telling reporters that the illness “did not get into the nursing homes by people coming from hospitals.”
Cuomo addressed what he described as the “distortion” over his March 25 directive, which directed nursing homes to accept recovering coronavirus patients, asserting that the virus did not enter nursing homes through the department’s controversial guidance.
In mid-March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance on sending people from the hospital back to nursing homes. The New York Department of Health (DOH) followed the guidance, as did “at least” 12 other states, Cuomo said, citing the reasons for the directive. Residents leaving hospitals were “not likely to be contagious because at that time the viral load is so low that you’re not contagious,” he said, also citing the use of cohorts.
“Patients, particularly seniors, should not remain in hospitals longer than necessary, because of risk of secondary infection,” he said, continuing to defend the directive.
“The patients were not sent to nursing homes. The nursing home had to agree that they could care for this person. That is a matter of law. They cannot accept a patient where they are not prepared to care for properly,” Cuomo claimed.
Notably, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), who delivered supplies to nursing homes at the time, told Breitbart News Saturday that the facilities lacked basic personal protective equipment to care for the individuals and felt as though they “didn’t have that opportunity to reject” the recovering patients.
Cuomo continued to defend the guidance during the presser. Of the 613 nursing homes in the state, 365 received a person from the hospital, Cuomo said. Of the 365 that received a person from the March 25 guidance, “98 percent of those … already had COVID in their facility.”
“COVID did not get into the nursing homes by people coming from hospitals,” the Democrat governor asserted, placing the bulk of the blame on unknowing staff members.
“COVID came into the nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing home when we didn’t even know we had COVID — staff walking into a nursing home even though they were asymptomatic because the national experts all told us you could only spread COVID if you had symptoms,” he continued, also placing blame on visitors, thereby absolving his administration of blame.
“COVID may have been brought into a nursing home because visitors brought it in and didn’t know they were contagious because the guidance was you can only be contagious if you have symptoms —if you’re sneezing, if you’re coughing,” Cuomo said. “That turned out to be wrong.”
“That’s how COVID got into the nursing homes,” he concluded. “98 percent of the people who took a person back from a hospital who was probably no longer contagious already had it in the facility, and they signed and agreed that they could handle it because they already had people who had COVID in the nursing home.”
“If you look at the rate of death before the March 25 order, and after the order was rescinded, the rate of death is the same,” he continued, asserting that experts made decisions based on the best information they had at the time.
Cuomo also responded to the mounting backlash over his administration covering up the number of coronavirus fatalities in long-term care facilities, contending that the New York DOH has “always fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals.”
“They have always been fully reported,” he said, defending his state’s handling of that population in relation to the virus.
“New York is 34 in nursing home deaths as a percentage of total death,” he said, adding that it is “one of only seven states that counts what’s called presumed fatalities in nursing homes.”
“COVID preys on senior citizens, older people, weaker people. We’ve always known that. That is a fact,” he continued.
“The numbers were the numbers, always,” he continued, telling reporters that the number of deaths in nursing homes and hospitals was “fully, publicly, and accurately reported,” although he admitted that people requested additional information from the DOH beyond “place of death.” Requests included additional numbers for certain categorizations.
“There was a delay in providing the press and the public all that additional information,” he said. “There was a delay.”