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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference on Saturday that no one should be prosecuted for COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes after he ordered eldercare facilities to accept coronavirus patients in March, leading to thousands of additional deaths.
At one point during the press conference, Cuomo was asked by a reporter if anyone should be held accountable for older patients who contracted the virus and died while living in an eldercare facility.
Noting that he has regular conversations “with people who have lost people” during the pandemic, Cuomo said that coronavirus is going to kill people no matter what anyone does or does not do.
“We lost 139 people yesterday,” Cuomo began. “Who is accountable for those 139 deaths? Well, how do we get justice for those families who had 139 deaths? What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths?
“Nobody. Nobody,” Cuomo continued. “Mother Nature, God…where did this virus come from?”
The answer to that question, of course, is China.
In any event, Cuomo continued:
People are going to die by this virus. That is the truth. Best hospital system on the globe, I believe we have. Best doctors, best nurses who’ve responded like heroes. Every medication, ventilators…the health system wants for nothing. We worked it out so that we always had available beds. Nobody was deprived of a bed or medical coverage in any way. And still people died.
The New York Democrat went on to note that “older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen. Despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive.”
“Older people are more vulnerable, and that is a fact,” he continued. “That is not going to change. There’s a randomness to this virus that is inexplicable.”
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) May 17, 2020
To Cuomo’s observation that “older people” are more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, what’s “inexplicable” is his decision to require the state’s nursing homes — which are filled with older people — to accept COVID-19 patents in March.
It’s inexplicable because it was known very early in the pandemic, based on data from Asia and Europe, that the elderly and infirm were most at risk for contracting COVID-19.
In Florida, for instance, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis implemented steps very early to mitigate coronavirus exposures in long-term care facilities, which has resulted in far fewer deaths than in New York and New Jersey.
As New York Post Michael Godwin wrote on Saturday:
Florida got the message and implemented a model response. Despite its vast enclaves of long-term care homes, it reported under 750 deaths in them, or slightly more than one for each of its 615 facilities.
The striking contrast between Florida on one hand and New York and New Jersey on the other can be traced largely to policy decisions by their governors. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey issued almost identical orders in late March requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients being discharged from hospitals. The orders barred the homes from even asking if the patients had the virus, lest they be discriminated against.
In March, around the time his government was requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, Cuomo talked of protecting the vulnerable in the state’s population as he issued his first stay-at-home order, saying, “My mother is not expendable and your mother is not expendable and our brothers and sisters are not expendable.”
It wasn’t as if Cuomo wasn’t warned of the consequences of his decision even after implementing the disastrous, deadly policy.
In April, the governor was asked about it, in which he seemed unaware of it. But days later, reports noted that nursing homes were pressing New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and Cuomo for assistance in the form of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies so they could better take care of the patients.
Cuomo instead blamed nursing homes for being unprepared to deal, safely, with coronavirus patients and said it wasn’t his job to help them.
Eldercare facilities, he said, “have to do the job they’re getting paid to do, and if they’re not doing the job they’re getting paid to do, and they’re violating state regulations, then that’s a different issue — then they should lose their license.”
But that excuse didn’t wash with some New York lawmakers.
“The buck stops with him. But he’s saying the buck doesn’t stop with him,” Assemblyman Kim said of Cuomo. “We gave him the authority to save lives and he’s not.”
“Instead of accountability for errors, so we can learn and move forward, he instead says protecting the people who he knows are most vulnerable — who are losing their lives in unsafe conditions — is not his job,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams added, according to the New York Post.
Last week, Cuomo rescinded the order for nursing homes to take in coronavirus patients, but only after at least 5,500 people died of coronavirus in the state’s eldercare facilities. What’s more, it’s been revealed that the Cuomo administration is now undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
A GOP congressional candidate in New York has called on U.S. Attorney William Barr to investigate the state’s disastrous and deadly decision to order nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.
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