WASHINGTON — A new State Department of Health report Monday that examined the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, is just a way for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to dodge responsibility for nursing home deaths, according to Rep. Tom Reed.
Reed, who has been calling for an independent investigation into the deaths of thousands of New York nursing home residents, blasted Cuomo.
“This is a blatant attempt by Governor Cuomo to sidestep an ounce of accountability,” Reed said. “As we’ve said all along, an independent investigation is needed to fully evaluate the impact of New York’s disastrous nursing home policies. Justice is not served when the individuals who were responsible for the state’s deadly edicts are reviewing their own conduct.”
The report found that more than 37,000 nursing home workers were infected with the Coronavirus between March to early June. That accounts to about one in four nursing home staff.
“The correlation is between what happened between community-wide infection and staff infection were the more prevalent reasons why there were fatalities in nursing homes. But it was not because of a directive on March 25,” said Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling. That order required nursing homes to re-admit COVID positive patients unless they could not provide adequate care.
“The March 25 guidance was not the driving factor in nursing home deaths,” NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said.
However, Reed places the
blame squarely on Cuomo and his administration.
“Placing the blame squarely on the staff who care for our grandparents — when the state knowingly created COVID hotspots by forcing homes to accept COVID-positive patients — is a slap in the face to those who lost a loved one. Even a cursory review of ADMA’s dire warning to New York State makes it clear what really contributed to New York’s horrific death toll,” Reed said.
In a response to Monday’s press conference, Stephen Hanse, the President of the NYS Health Facilities Association and the NYS Center for Assisted Living, said: “At the onset of the COVID-19 virus, nursing homes and assisted living facilities were not the top priority. The principal focus of policymakers was on bolstering hospital resources and ramping up hospital bed capacity. This strategy included the Department of Health’s March 25th Advisory… As we learn more about the COVID-19 virus every day, policymakers now know that the men and women residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are the most at risk to infection from the COVID-19 virus…”
Several Republicans continue to call for an independent investigation into the coronavirus in nursing homes.