Cuomo Defends ‘Smart’ Nursing Home Directive: ‘Republicans Politicized a Health Order’

In this image taken from video from the Office of the N.Y. Governor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. (Office of the NY Governor via AP)
Office of the NY Governor via AP

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) defended his state’s controversial nursing home directive, which instructed nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients, contending this week it was Republicans who “politicized a health order” and referring to the order as a “smart” decision from a medical point of view.

“The Republicans politicized a health order that was put out by the state on March 25, which was, from a medical point of view, smart,” Cuomo said. “They wanted to blame nursing home deaths on that order”:

Both Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker signed the directive in March last year, instructing nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients, effectively exposing one of the most vulnerable populations to the virus.

The order read in part:

 No resident [of a nursing home] shall be denied readmission 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.

It was not until May that Cuomo reversed the order.

“Hospitals, going forward, cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless the patient tests negative for COVID-19. So we’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. Period,” Cuomo announced during a May press briefing.

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a report suggesting the administration undercounted the number of coronavirus-related nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent, yet Cuomo has continued to defend his administration’s actions and the controversial directive itself. Between James’ report and the mounting allegations of sexual harassment, New York lawmakers committed to an impeachment investigation of the governor.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is running for governor of New York, blasted Cuomo following his dismissive remarks on the nursing home directive.

“This is a false narrative Cuomo is pushing with his heavy reliance & belief that his own state’s residents are idiots. No, ordering infected patients to nursing homes & killing healthy seniors wasn’t smart,” he said. “The lies, book & cover-up weren’t smart”:

New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Democrat, also criticized Cuomo, denying the governor’s assertion the scandal is nothing more than “republican-driven politics.”

“No, this is about people vs profits. It’s about saving lives vs protecting donors. It’s about Cuomo’s abuse of power to monetize a crisis,” he said:


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