At around the time New York’s state health department under Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a directive prohibiting nursing homes from testing recovering coronavirus patients prior to admission, Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis issued its own executive order strictly regulating incoming patients to protect those facilities from the epidemic.
About a month and a half later, the differences are staggering. The latest tallies show that in Florida 745 residents and staff at long-term care facilities across the state have died from coronavirus although the numbers continue to rise in the state and nationwide. This compared to New York’s 5,300 dead in nursing homes.
Florida has one of the nation’s largest elderly populations and is more populous than New York. The Sunshine State hosts over 4,400 nursing homes and assisted living facilities containing over 151,000 residents.
Cuomo is facing increasing criticism as the state’s elderly care facilities have been devastated by coronavirus.
And he’s been forced in recent days to reverse a controversial March 25 directive requiring nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients.
The March 25 executive order in question stated “[nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
Last week, New York disclosed more than 1,700 previously unreported deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities. An Associate Press tally put the number of nursing home virus deaths at over 5,300. Elderly care fatalities in New York have reportedly been on the rise by an average of 20 to 25 deaths per day for several weeks.
The massive number of dead prompted Cuomo this week to issue a series of new regulations, including requiring staff at all nursing homes to take two virus tests per week.
“We’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after hospital visit. Period. If there’s any issue, the resident must be referred to the department of health which will find alternative care,” Cuomo further explained on Sunday.
New York Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Congressional candidate, is demanding an independent federal inquiry into the March 25 executive order, saying she doesn’t have faith in Cuomo’s own inquiry with NY Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat.
Malliotakis stated on Fox News:
On March 24th, Gov. Cuomo said, ‘My mother is not expendable, your mother is not expendable’ and yet the very next day he signed an executive order mandating nursing homes – where our most vulnerable mothers and our most vulnerable fathers reside – to accept COVID positive patients.
There are 5,000 residents of nursing homes or patients that have been put into nursing homes that have died, which account for 25 percent of the deaths in the state of New York and 30 percent of the deaths in the community that I represent.
A full ten days before the scandalous New York order or nursing homes, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management on March 15 issued its own executive order tightly regulating entry into nursing homes, including strict rules of admission for staff and incoming patients.
The Florida agency’s coordinator, who was designated by DeSantis as the state’s coordinating officer for the pandemic, issued a March 15 mandate that prohibited entry into nursing homes except for a narrow list.
The executive order entirely banned entry to those on the narrow list, including staff and facility residents, if they meet any of the following criteria:
- Were infected with the virus and did not have two consecutive negative test results separated by 24 hours.
- Present signs or symptoms of respiratory infection, including cough, fever, shortness of breath or sore throat.
- Were in contact with anyone known to have been infected with the virus and has not yet tested negative for the virus within 14 days.
- Traveled through any airport or were on a cruise ship within 14 days.
On March 18, Florida also imposed a universal rule mandating face masks in nursing homes. And it later established Coronavirus-dedicated nursing homes.
Emmett Reed, executive director of the Florida Health Care Association, applauded DeSantis for “always seeming to be a step ahead,” including with the early directives on restricting access to nursing homes.
Florida acted early to protect seniors in long-term care facilities by prohibiting hospitals from sending COVID-positive residents back to those facilities.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 13, 2020
Like states nationwide, Florida’s nursing homes have seen a higher percentage of mortality rates from a virus that preys on the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
As deaths at nursing homes rise in Florida and nationwide, DeSantis is acting alongside White House calls for residents and staff at elderly care facilities to be regularly tested.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has issued two emergency rules mandating all nursing homes to grant access to the Florida Department of Health for infection prevention and control. Actions include mandating virus testing for all facility employees.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow.