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Cuomo Blames COVID-19 Nursing Home Order On Unknown Staffer During Testimony To Congress

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 Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told members of Congress on June 11 that he was not responsible for an order requiring nursing homes to accept residents discharged from hospitals even if they still had COVID-19, according to lawmakers in the room.
Mr. Cuomo did “tell us that he did not know that this directive existed, that he did not authorize it, that his department of health commissioner did not authorize it, that somehow it just popped up from an unknown staff member,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) told reporters in a briefing after the closed-door hearing.
Ms. Malliotakis said it was “outrageous” that the governor didn’t know the mandate came out of his administration.
“The governor finds out about this directive that kills thousands of seniors a month later,” she said. “And he did not do an internal investigation to find out who this lowly staff member, who’s still unknown, who that person was? That to me is unconscionable.”
The March 25, 2020, directive from the New York Department of Health stated that nursing home operators couldn’t refuse to accept residents even if they tested positive for COVID-19. “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” the order stated.
Nursing homes were also barred from requiring COVID-19 testing if hospital staff determined the residents were medically stable before discharging them. Mr. Cuomo said that nursing home operators could lose their licenses or be fined if they did not follow state policies.
More than 15,000 nursing home residents in New York state died from COVID-19, according to state data. The numbers were adjusted upward after Mr. Cuomo left office and several state agencies found the Cuomo administration had undercounted nursing home deaths.
Mr. Cuomo partially reversed the order in May 2021 but kept other elements in place for additional months.
Mr. Cuomo previously said that health care workers and family members of residents brought COVID-19 into the nursing homes. He has blamed the Trump administration for the directive, pointing to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that said nursing homes can accept patients with COVID-19.
However, the guidance, which cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that the facilities should only do so if they could follow specific rules, including isolating the patients in their own wing for two weeks.
In remarks to reporters before the hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo said that “the investigations say New York followed the federal guidance.” He also said New York did well during the pandemic, but that “the federal government failed this nation.”
Mr. Cuomo appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic under a subpoena.
He acknowledged in the deposition that the language in the New York mandate was not the same as the CMS guidance, according to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
Mr. Cuomo also told lawmakers that if nursing home operators could not care for residents, “they should have rejected them,” Ms. Malliotakis, a member of the panel, said. “But it doesn’t say that anywhere in the directive that you had that opportunity to reject someone if you could not care for them.”
Mr. Cuomo also said that he wouldn’t change the directive, knowing what he knows now, but would, looking back, have communicated about it more, according to members who were in the room.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), said that she’s spoken with operators who told her “there was no way out.”
“They were threatened. They were intimidated into if they did not take these nursing home patients,” she said.
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the panel, said in a statement after the hearing that he appreciated Mr. Cuomo taking time to answer the subcommittee’s questions.
“My heart remains with every family who lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Let us do right by them and commit to the forward-looking work of fortifying infection control and prevention to protect America’s nursing home residents so that we can be better prepared for future pandemics and save future lives.”

 

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