Is Governor Cuomo right in saying COVID deaths in nursing homes were not caused by his policies?


Fact Box

  • Andrew Cuomo is the Democratic Governor of New York. He assumed office on January 1, 2011. His current term ends on January 1, 2023.
  • On March 25, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order forcing nursing homes in his state to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus. Around 4,800 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 in those nursing homes from March to May — approximately 25 percent of all fatalities in the state.
  • As of July 14, there have been a total of 407,875 coronavirus cases and 32,092 deaths in New York State. 
  • The July 6 New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) report Governor Cuomo references is robust but technically authorless.

Jennifer (Yes)

Anyone can access the New York Department of Health's report on New York state nursing homes, released last week. A simple read-through will make it clear that the Governor is correct - nursing home deaths in the state had absolutely nothing to do with Cuomo's March 25 order to return residents to care homes following treatment and recovery. The Governor says he was following a March 13 CDC directive, backed by the Trump administration.

It's also instructive to understand that 40% of US COVID-19 deaths have taken place in senior care facilities, which puts the example of New York in sharper perspective. Perhaps the question here is about the administration of care homes and not the quality of Governor Cuomo's leadership. Everyone loves to talk about how much they care about seniors, but clearly, we have abandoned them to a system starved for attention and funding.

The NYHD report concludes that 6,000 deaths in the state from COVID-19 were mainly attributable to infected staff, not the return of patients from hospital stays for treatment. Jim Malatras, advisor to the Governor, points out, 'The fatalities happened long before the admission policy'. What's notable here is that over 37,000 workers in nursing homes between mid-March and early June were infected and asymptomatic, thus passing the virus on to care home residents. 

State GOP lawmakers are demanding an inquiry. But this legislative faction has been agitating for an investigation since May. With the release of the NYHD report, the GOP has seen an opportunity to damage a popular Governor whose leadership during this crisis has been exemplary. 

Stephanie (No)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo isn't right shifting blame from himself about the COVID-19 nursing home debacle to 'infected staff members.' Because of his ill-advised March 25 policy, which required thousands of elderly coronavirus-positive patients to return to their facilities to continue care, many have contracted coronavirus and died.

The report Cuomo used for reference in his defense is not scientifically sound and only considers the impact of the order on '80 percent of the 310 nursing homes in the state.' Scientists note the report would not be considered for publication in 'an academic journal,' while other experts speculate on the report’s legitimacy, including the question regarding who actually wrote it. The report also failed to include statistics about nursing home residents who ultimately died while in the hospital.

Cuomo claimed the criticism is politically motivated, yet it's easily arguable coronavirus-related mandates and shutdowns are likewise politically motivated. Many Republicans see the Left's reaction to COVID-19 is an attempt to remake American society to be wholly reliant on the government under a socialistic model.

Regardless of what the report states, it cannot be proven Governor Cuomo's order did not result in unnecessary fatalities, and it was very likely a death sentence for some. Yet Cuomo has cited a very convenient report in an attempt to cover up his misjudgment. The Governor should take accountability for this situation instead of relying on a report that was possibly written to spare his reputation. However, his actions imply that he knew he was initially incorrect, as he finally 'rescinded his order' in May.

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