New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home policy may have led to the deaths of 1,000 vulnerable people from COVID-19, according to a new study.
Cuomo and his administration are in increasingly hot water for allegedly hiding the amount of nursing home deaths early in the pandemic, and a study by the Empire Center for Public Policy validates the concerns around the numbers reported.
In the study, which was obtained by the New York Post, Cuomo’s original strategy that told nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients from the hospital is linked to ‘several hundred and possibly more than 1,000’ deaths.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home strategy likely contributed to 1,000 deaths, according to a new study
Cuomo is facing intensifying criticism for his strategy, as well for under counting deaths
The study said: ‘The findings contradict a central conclusion of the state Department of Health’s July 6 report on coronavirus in nursing homes, which said, among other things: “Admission policies were not a significant factor in nursing home fatalities,” and “the data do not show a consistent relationship between admissions and increased mortality.”‘
There were reportedly 5,780 deaths in New York nursing homes from late March to early May. Cuomo’s directive could be tied to one in six of those deaths, according to the study by the nonprofit watchdog.
The policy was in effect from March 25 to May 10.
Just a few weeks ago, New York said less than 9,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19
Due to the recent scandal, however, that number has been revealed to be more than 13,000
New York’s Department of Health has often pushed back against the assertion that the mandate had anything to do with nursing home deaths.
‘Admission policies were not a significant factor in nursing home fatalities,’ Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in July.
‘The March 25 guidance was not the driving force in nursing home deaths.’
Even in the face of the new study, Zucker is continuing to assert that the mandate and nursing home deaths are not related.
Zucker told the Post that the study was ‘consistent with the Department of Health’s analysis that found the March 25 guidance was not a driver of COVID infections and fatalities and COVID was introduced to nursing homes primarily through staff and visitors.’
Zucker has also claimed that of the 365 nursing homes that admitted patients from hospital between March 25 and May 10, 98 percent were already dealing with coronavirus outbreaks.
The new study led by the Empire Center of Public Policy led to a rebuke by Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who maintains Cuomo’s mandate about COVID-19 discharges going to nursing homes had nothing to do with the rise in nursing home deaths
The study, however, noted 9.3 more deaths in non-NYC nursing homes that followed Cuomo’s mandate by admitting COVID-19 patients who were discharged from hospitals
Nursing homes have accounted for over a quarter of New York’s COVID-19 deaths
The Empire Center has 99 percent confidence in their study, which was conducted by comparing the rates at nursing homes that admitted COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals versus nursing homes that did not.
Outside of New York City, nursing homes averaged 9.3 more deaths if they admitted COVID-19 discharges.
The same wasn’t true in New York City, which is likely due to the rapid spread of the virus in the early days of the pandemic.
Over 13,000 nursing home patients in New York have died of COVID-19, though weeks ago the state was reporting that it was less than 9,000 people.
Bill Hammond, who wrote the report, said the mandate ‘clearly did make some difference and it made a bad situation worse.’
Assemblyman Ron Kim is among those calling out Cuomo for his handling of the scandal
Kim claims that Cuomo threatened to ‘destroy’ him in a phone call over the scandal
‘Their methodology was questionable — we know they used partial data for crucial variables, deaths and admissions,’ Hammond said of the state’s numbers.
‘It’s not clear that they looked for, let alone reported, the kind of statistical correlation that we found.’
Cuomo’s administration is under increasing fire the way they’ve reported the COVID-19 numbers, particularly in regards to nursing homes.
Top aide to Cuomo Melissa DeRosa admitted recently that the administration was hiding the numbers of nursing home deaths.
There have been calls for Cuomo to resign or be prosecuted.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez called for a ‘full investigation’ into Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
‘I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19,’ she said in a statement.
‘Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor’s remarks warrant a full investigation.’
The FBI and US Attorney’s Office have begun investigations into Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home deaths and any potential cover-up.
A majority of New Yorkers claimed in a recent survey that Cuomo did not do a good job handling the nursing home crisis.
Pictured: Funeral director Tom Cheeseman collects a body from a Brooklyn nursing home
Additionally, a feud has erupted with Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens, who claims that he was threatened by Cuomo over the scandal.
‘Governor Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said,’ Kim told CNN on Wednesday.
‘He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience.’
Cuomo appeared to show some conciliatory signs during a press conference on Friday.
‘I take responsibility for all of it, period,’ Cuomo said of not counting the nursing home deaths fully.
‘We created a void by not producing enough public information fast enough.’
But he also brought partisanship into the conversation, citing the ‘toxic political environment’ as a factor in the scandal.
Cuomo also appeared to blame the nursing homes themselves for the deadly toll they’ve witnessed.
‘They were only supposed to take patients if they could,’ Cuomo said of the nursing homes.
”I’m not going to allow people to lie to the people of New York without answering them,’ Cuomo added. ‘I have very thick skin. I don’t really care what people say about me. I agreed to this nasty business because I believe I can do good things. I’m not going to let you lie to them.’
The United States is moving closer to 500,000 deaths a year into the pandemic
Cuomo also said nursing home visits can begin again under national heath guidelines.
There have been over 1.57 million coronavirus cases in New York, with 45,957 deaths, meaning the nursing home deaths make up over a quarter of all fatalities in the state.
In the United States, there have been over 27 million COVID-19 cases and over 495,000 deaths from the virus.