New York Nursing Homes

Robert Brooks Contributor
New York Nursing Homes
Read Time: approx. 2:34

Cover: Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash

New York Nursing Homes: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, whose leadership was initially praised by many during the early stages of the pandemic, is suddenly facing intense backlash due to a pair of new reports, and questionable on-air interviews with his brother. For starters, the first report argues that, had the Governor taken action just a week earlier, at least 17,000 lives could have been saved in the empire state. Not many cities in the US can be compared to New York in terms of size and density, but the comparison armchair experts point to is San Francisco’s ability to avoid New York-style results due to cooperation between state and city officials. As ProPublica points out, “California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the Covid threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far.” Additionally, Governor Cuomo is facing intensified criticism for his March 25 directive that mandated New York state’s nursing homes open their doors to recovering coronavirus patients to help free up hospital beds. According to an analysis by the AP, more than 4,300 recovering Covid-19 patients were relocated to New York’s highly vulnerable nursing homes under the controversial state directive, which was ultimately reversed on May 10. Many now believe this decision contributed to the more than 5,800 nursing and adult care facility deaths in New York—more than in any other state. Here’s how it’s playing.

On the Left
: For his part, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tends to dismiss retrospective analysis as “Monday morning quarterbacking,” POLITICO reports. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also appear to be deflecting the blame. At his briefing in Manhattan Cuomo said, “It’s above my paygrade as the governor of one state. It’s not what I do; it’s not my responsibility.” For context, Cuomo will become the nation’s highest paid governor thanks to a pay raise approved by lawmakers as part of the new state budget. The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted in March to gradually increase the Democratic executive’s salary from the current $179,000 to $250,000 on Jan. 1, 2021. Another aspect of the Governor’s response has been his media appearances, especially those conducted with his brother and CNN personality, Chris Cuomo. Even left-leaning outlets are beginning to see them less as friendly-entertainment and more as “bad journalism” as Lydia O’Connor writes for the Huffington Post. “The problem isn’t their on-screen banter; it’s that one of CNN’s top anchors is throwing softball questions at the man governing the epicenter of the coronavirus, all while evidence increasingly shows that his response to the outbreak was insufficient, especially for New York’s most vulnerable age groups.” In summary, Cuomo’s nursing home decision, and subsequent response appears to be a chink in his armor even for Democratic and left-leaning outlets.

On the Right
: Given the fact that the left isn’t particularly thrilled with Cuomo right now, conservatives and right-leaning voices are taking the chance to amplify their criticism. Brian Flood at Fox News echoes O’Connor’s sentiment from above questioning why CNN’s Chris Cuomo did not ask his brother to discuss the nursing home tragedy. Flood, much like O’Connor (except with more incendiary word-choice) condemns the Cuomo brothers for making jokes and using oversized cotton swab props in an effort to poke fun at the testing procedure for Covid-19. Mainstream media’s criticism (on both the right and left) spread to Twitter where keyboard warriors voiced their disapproval of CNN’s journalistic standards. Outside of the interview, Betsy McCaughey writes for the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board that, “It was predictable that nursing homes would become the riskiest place during a pandemic. Yet state and federal officials treated them as an afterthought.”

Flag This:
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “nursing-home residents make up less than 1% of the U.S. population, but in many states they account for half of all Covid-19 deaths. In some states it’s higher, such as Minnesota (81%), New Hampshire (77%) and Pennsylvania (71%).” So regardless of what you think about how Gov. Cuomo has handled the outbreak in his state, what’s important is understanding how to prepare nursing homes for the second wave. Betsy McCaughey from The WSJ, continues to say that, “the single most effective way to save lives would be to improve infection control in nursing homes and prepare to rush supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to these facilities. Overlooking nursing homes was the biggest lost opportunity in the battle against Covid-19.” As noted above, bickering between De Blasio and Cuomo already led to delayed reaction which may have cost thousands of lives. Let this be a lesson for the left and right as well, that instead of finger-pointing about past-mistakes, what’s important is focusing on future fixes. We stayed inside, we “flattened the curve.” Let’s hope that while this was happening our leaders were preparing for round-two by stocking up on supplies and figuring out how to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.