New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that nursing homes that could not comply with a March 25 directive requiring them to accept coronavirus patients should have obeyed “regulations” and transferred patients if they could not care for them.
The directive, issued March 25, stated (original emphasis): “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
On Thursday, Cuomo said he would investigate nursing homes that failed to follow laws and regulations on “separation and isolation policies, staffing policies and inadequate personal protective equipment.”
But nursing homes say that they could not possibly cope on short notice with the state’s sudden demand to care for patients infected with a highly contagious disease.
A reporter asked Cuomo at his press briefing Saturday whether the state department of health should have done more, leading up to the pandemic, to prepare nursing homes and ensure that they had adequate equipment and staff.
Cuomo responded to the question by saying that “no one is to blame,” but added:
The regulations still apply, even though you’re in the middle of a global pandemic. The regulations still apply. And for the nursing homes, one of the central regulations is, if you cannot provide appropriate care for that patient, you must transfer that patient, period. That’s the — that’s the rule. And if you can’t find the place to transfer the patient, then the department of health will find a place to transfer the patient. Another nursing home. another facility.
Critics, however, say that nursing homes were under pressure to accept the patients.
Journalists did not ask Cuomo on Saturday about whether he accepted that the directive may have placed residents at risk, or if he would withdraw the directive.
Cuomo has faced increasing scrutiny over his directive in recent days as mainstream media outlets have woken up to the issue. The New York Times reported Friday that New York, New Jersey, and California have similar policies — and that critics called such policies a “sentence of death” for residents.
NBC News reported Sunday that noting that Connecticut and Massachusetts had a different policy, which set aside specific nursing facilities for coronavirus-only patients.
Conservative radio host and litigator Mark Levin was among the first to question New York’s policy, on March 26. The Wall Street Journal reported the directive the same day, though the rest of the media largely ignored the issue until last week.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.