Dean’s husband lost both of his parents to the virus. They lived in separate nursing/assisted living facilities in New York. Dean is right to call it a scandal and one of the most important stories of the pandemic, and she’s sadly also right that it’s not getting enough coverage.
At PJ Media, we have tracked and covered this, beginning with Dean’s own New York. There, Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted two policies that both have had the effect of turning nursing homes into COVID-19 death traps. One state policy allowed coronavirus-infected medical staff to work in nursing homes, while another state policy forced nursing homes to accept COVID patients. Gov. Cuomo has both defended and rescinded those policies in the face of mounting and deserved criticism. He also covered up the full extent of the lives his policies have taken.
Nationally, nursing home coronavirus deaths account for an appallingly high percentage of the total number of deaths from the virus. As of the writing of that piece, on May 15, the worst state by percentage was Minnesota. There, 82% of its statewide COVID deaths happened in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Similar to New York, Minnesota encouraged hospitals to move COVID patients to nursing homes. The result of this could have and should have been predicted.
Yet few major outlets, and no cable news outlets, are giving this story much coverage. A RealClearPolitics analysis shows that cable news focuses on the raw death totals but seldom if ever delves below the surface to examine the age groups of most concern or where most COVID deaths are occurring.
The focus on numbers alone, according to the RCP analysis, is misleading. It also completely leaves out one of the other very important storylines directly related to the pandemic: unemployment. As of last week, more than 36 million Americans have been put out of work due to coronavirus lockdowns. Coverage of their plight tends to be overshadowed by histrionic coverage of the virus death toll — coverage that still leaves out where many of the virus deaths are actually happening.
Janice Dean is right. The percentage of deaths in nursing and assisted living homes deserves more coverage. Click here to see the latest state-by-state totals with nursing home deaths sorted (credit: Phil Kerpen). Some states, such as New York, have actively pushed policies that made or still make those homes extremely dangerous for their residents.
Officials who authorized those policies must be held accountable for them. Outside those states, knowing the truth about the numbers can help us care for those most vulnerable to the virus while shaping policy for the rest of the population. Should Texas, for instance, keep its 29 million people as locked down as New York despite having far fewer cases — and about 46% of its COVID deaths occurring in nursing homes?
To listen to most of the media, the answer is yes. So we’re leaving summer camps and schools closed despite the extremely low risks the virus poses to children, keeping businesses closed despite the low risks the virus poses to most adults of working age, and not concentrating our creativity on protecting seniors in and out of nursing homes — who are the most vulnerable population.
It makes no sense. It’s insanity, in fact.
Bryan Preston is the author of Hubble’s Revelations: The Amazing Time Machine and Its Most Important Discoveries. He’s a writer, producer, veteran, author, Texan, and conservative strategist.
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