Dr. Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., a constitutional scholar, bestselling author and healthcare expert, says Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deadly nursing home policy during the coronavirus pandemic likely cost 10,000 lives, double the state’s official numbers. “It’s hard to know what’s worse, the dying or the lying.”
Cuomo has tried to deflect responsibility for the policy, claiming he was merely following Trump’s policy, referring to an administration statement from March 13. “Sorry, Governor, but you’re twisting what the statement said,” McCaughey says. “The administration recommended nursing homes should admit patients even if they were coming from a hospital battling COVID-19, not that patients with COVID-19 themselves should be admitted.”
To the contrary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was emphatic about the dangers of allowing COVID-19 to invade a nursing home. On March 18, the CDC stated that “once COVID-19 has been introduced into a long term care facility, it has the potential to result in high attack rates among residents, staff members, and visitors.” The agency warned “it is critical that long-term care facilities implement active measures to prevent introduction of COVID-19.”
One week later, on March 25, Cuomo’s Health Department mandated that nursing homes accept COVID patients and barred homes from requiring COVID tests for admission. Facilities had to fly blind, not knowing which incoming patients endangered residents and staff.
Soon after Cuomo’s mandate was announced, a national association of nursing home doctors protested the policy, saying it posed “a clear and present danger to all of the residents of a nursing home.” A patient advocacy group called The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths also urged Cuomo to change the policy.
He did not. He repeatedly defended the policy, as did Howard Zucker, New York state’s health commissioner. As the death toll rose, Cuomo quietly changed the policy so that nursing home patients who died in a hospital were not counted as nursing home deaths to cover-up the devastating impact of his policy.
As we previously reported, nursing home patients represent less than one percent of the population, but nearly half of all coronavirus deaths. Cuomo dismissed criticism of his policy by saying “Older people, vulnerable people are going to die…That’s going to happen despite whatever you do.”
Where did Cuomo’s deadly policy come from? Not from the Trump administration, but from corrupt New York politics:
New York stuck with the lethal policy until May 10, way too long. Why? Hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients insisted on clearing out the elderly and sending them to whatever nursing homes had empty beds. The state Health Department willingly complied, nursing home residents be damned.
In New York, the Health Department works for the hospital industry, not for patients and families. The Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) bundles millions of dollars from the hospitals and funnels the money to New York politicians, including Cuomo and the state Democratic Party’s housekeeping committee. Hospital interests give more and hold more sway in Albany even than the real estate industry or Wall Street. Often it’s GYNHA’s president, Ken Raske, who gets a prized seat at Cuomo’s table at political dinners.
The state Health Department, in return, does the hospital industry’s bidding, tolerating hospital infection rates worse than the national average and hiding outbreaks of deadly diseases like Candida auris at hospitals, when the public has a right to know.
Cuomo’s own pockets dictated the policy, not Trump, and thousands died because of it. Cuomo’s blaming of Trump for his own policy tells us just how reflexive blaming Trump is for Democrats, especially during the pandemic.
— Margolis & Cox Editorial Cartoons (@MargolisandCox) May 27, 2020
Back in March, Cuomo said, “My only goal is to engage the president in partnership. This is no time for politics.” It’s clear that by blaming Trump for a policy that had nothing to do with him that for Cuomo, this has always been about politics. He enjoyed a surge of approval during the pandemic, and was briefly touted as a replacement for Joe Biden on the 2020 Democratic ticket. Cuomo may not be looking to run for president this year, but he’s got an eye on his political future, and him sending thousands of grandmas and grandpas to their deaths is not a good look for a future presidential candidate.
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