New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has come under fire in recent weeks for a controversial policy enacted at the beginning of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak that caused the virus to ravage nursing home populations statewide.
After facing intense pressure to answer for the tragedy, Andrew Cuomo issued a new directive on Sunday that effectively ended the policy of forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients.
Gov. Cuomo has been lauded as a hero during the coronavirus outbreak due to his calm, cool, and collected handling of the state’s crisis. However, as the crisis winds down, he’s begun to face criticism for some policies that appear to have done more harm than good.
In an effort to ward off that criticism, Cuomo ordered on Sunday that all nursing home workers in the state will be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, adding that “this rule is not optional — it’s mandatory.”
He also issued a new order that hospitals cannot send patients back to the state’s nursing homes until they have tested negative for the virus, a reversal of his March 25th order that caused mayhem in the state’s elder-care system.
With the state’s coronavirus deaths falling to their lowest levels since the beginning of the outbreak in late March, Cuomo explained that “we’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit,” after weeks of ordering that very thing.
Former NY Governor George Pataki ripped Cuomo’s handling of the situation on Friday, calling it a “disgrace.”
“I know Andrew Cuomo is one of the most popular politicians in America today. He has his briefings that are calm and informative,” Pataki said. “But when you look at the job that he is not doing when it comes to nursing homes, those beds should have been used to put the most vulnerable in those facilities … What happened in New York, in my mind, is a disgrace.”
Nursing homes pay the price
As the virus took hold in New York, it soon became apparent that the state’s overburdened hospitals would have difficulty accommodating the flood of critically ill patients. Cuomo’s solution to the burgeoning problem was to issue a directive on March 25th that “[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.”
In essence, to free up hospital space, Cuomo forced nursing homes to indiscriminately accept new and returning patients without any testing for COVID-19 — leaving facility healthcare workers in the dark and potentially exposing thousands in the most vulnerable age group to the virus.
Nursing homes across the nation have taken some of the hardest hits from coronavirus. Crowded and often chronically understaffed facilities combine with already-vulnerable elderly populations to create the perfect conditions for devastating outbreaks.
26,000 of the nation’s 80,000 deaths have occurred in nursing homes. 5,300 of those deaths come from New York alone, and according to the Associated Press, those deaths continue to rise at an average pace of 20 to 25 deaths per day.