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A Republican congressional candidate in New York is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state’s disastrous and deadly decision to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, which she says contributed to thousands of deaths.
In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Chele Farley blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration for “hundreds of deaths” in the Hudson Valley area alone, which encompasses the 18th district for which she is running.
“It has been reported that New York State ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients regardless of their ability to effectively ensure the safety of other patients,” she wrote. “Specifically, the state said that ‘no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.’”
4,900+ seniors have died from #COVID19 in NYS nursing homes following the state's order that facilities cannot refuse a patient based on infection status. Read my letter to AG Barr requesting a federal investigation into these deaths & the role played by the state's bad policy. pic.twitter.com/FbjUmU5W5X
— Chele Farley (@CheleFarley) May 9, 2020
She added that the “policy was a catalyst that increased the rate of infection among the state’s most vulnerable, and contradicted federal guidance indicating that nursing homes can only accept ‘a resident diagnosed with COVID-19’ if the facility can follow federal guidance on transmission precautions.”
Farley said that the result has been deadly: Some 4,900 nursing home patients have died from coronavirus, which she blamed directly on the Cuomo administration policy.
The order — dated March 25, 2020, from the New York Department of Health — specifically directs nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients, even though health officials have known from the outset of the pandemic that older Americans are among the most vulnerable populations.
“During this global health emergency, all NHs [nursing homes] must comply with the expedited receipt of residents returning from hospitals,” the NY health department order adds.
If readers recall, the first real outbreak in the U.S. with the deadliest consequences occurred in a nursing home in Washington state in late February. The virus quickly spread, killing 35 patients.
So it’s a mystery as to why New York health officials would direct facilities with some of the most vulnerable people to accept COVID-19-infected patients.
In her letter to Barr, Farley said she commended “federal, state, and local governments for the extraordinary steps they have taken to protect New Yorkers during” the pandemic.
Nevertheless, she continued, “I strongly believe that an independent, federal investigation is necessary to determine the source(s) and scope of this systemic failure that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 5,000 New York seniors.”
For his part, Cuomo announced via Twitter on Sunday that from now on, all nursing home employees must be tested twice a week for coronavirus.
NEW: All nursing home staff must now be tested for COVID twice a week.
⁰This rule is not optional — it’s mandatory.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 10, 2020
But some are already questioning why Cuomo didn’t act sooner. They are also pointing out that the problem wasn’t necessarily with nursing home staff, it was in the policy of sending virus-infected patients to nursing homes in the first place.
1. After thousands of deaths, now you finally do this?
2. Testing staff isn't enough. You need to isolate patients and staff who deal with them https://t.co/VUKAAVBuOt
— Daniel Greenfield – "Hang Together or Separately" (@Sultanknish) May 10, 2020
Cuomo claimed last month he was unaware of the order.
It should also be noted that some New York nursing home administrators pleaded with the state government for assistance.
Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Health Center sent panicked emails to the health department in early April requesting that some COVID-19 patients be transferred out of the facility to one of two field hospitals at the Javits Center or the USNS Comfort.
Instead, Cuomo announced that the ship was no longer needed and would be released back to the U.S. governor for possible use elsewhere. Neither the ship nor the field hospital at the Javits Center was used much at all.
Julie Kelly, who has been tracking this disaster, writes at American Greatness that of all the coronavirus policy mistakes made thus far, “historians likely will conclude, has been the deadly decision to knowingly mix COVID-19 patients with uninfected residents and health care workers in nursing homes.”
She may well be correct.
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