On March 25, New York state ordered nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their coronavirus status. That order proved to be a deadly mistake. It was well known that the elderly were more vulnerable to the virus, so having patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in nursing homes allowed the virus to spread, as Governor Andrew Cuomo put it, “like fire through dry grass.”
Despite this, Cuomo defended the policy. Nursing homes “don’t have a right to object. That is the rule and that is the regulation and they have to comply with that,” Cuomo said during a daily briefing last month. He finally rescinded the order on May 11, but the damage had been done.
But New York state was covering up just how deadly this policy was. By not counting the deaths of nursing home residents who died in hospitals in their tallies of nursing home resident deaths, New York was vastly undercounting nursing home deaths. In fact, it was the only state with a large outbreak to do this, and they finally admitted to this in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The NYSDOH confirmed to the DCNF that until around April 28, it was disclosing coronavirus deaths for all nursing home and adult care facility residents, regardless of whether the patient died at their long-term care facility or at a hospital,” The Daily Caller reported. “But the department made a subtle change to its disclosures beginning around May 3, according to web archives. The NYSDOH told the DCNF its disclosure now only reports coronavirus deaths for long-term care patients that died while physically present at their facility.” Deaths of nursing home patients who died in hospitals were still included in the overall count.
Governor Cuomo’s popularity has skyrocketed because of his perceived handling of the coronavirus pandemic in New York. The change in disclosure policy was made while “Cuomo began facing increasing scrutiny from the media over his order forcing nursing homes to take in patients who had tested positive for coronavirus,” suggesting the cover-up was politically motivated to protect Cuomo.
Nursing home patients represent a mere .46 percent of the United States population but account for at least 43 percent of all coronavirus deaths. Phil Kerpen, the president of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, estimates that doubling New York’s nursing home death count for the coronavirus is closer to double the official count. Under that assumption, nursing home patients account for as much as 52 percent of coronavirus deaths nationwide.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis
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