Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Governor Under Siege Following Health Department Death Toll Scandal

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has admitted to undercounting coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in nursing homes following the state’s decision requiring nursing homes to readmit residents who had tested positive for the novel, highly contagious pathogen. 

It was an inexplicable decision that wasn’t rescinded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) until Mother’s Day. The belated decision has become one of several experts have linked to New York’s high death toll. (RELATED: Obama CDC Chief Claims Cuomo Could’ve Prevented 50-80% of NY Deaths)

Despite receiving glowing media coverage, we have learned that Cuomo wasted critical early days that could have gone towards implementing appropriate measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Instead, his profound denial and constant bickering with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio led to immeasurable suffering on the part of their constituents.

While Cuomo is finally coming under scrutiny as reported cases have dropped substantially in New York, he remains defiant: proclaiming yesterday that no state official should be prosecuted for responding to the herculean task that confronted them. That includes those behind the infuriating decision to reintroduce COVID-19 patients into nursing homes filled with the most vulnerable New Yorkers. By the time the virus hit New York, localized outbreaks had already ravaged nursing homes elsewhere, like Kirkland, Washington’s Life Care Center. The proximity of residents, their age and underlying health conditions would create ideal conditions for an outbreak with a high mortality rate.

Perhaps that’s why even in Democratic-dominated New York, Cuomo and his lieutenants can’t stop the trickle of damning news — despite their best efforts.

The Daily Caller’s Andrew Kerr has more:

New York’s coronavirus tracker “currently does not include out of facility deaths,” NYSDOH spokeswoman Jill Montag told the DCNF. “Deaths of nursing home and adult care facility residents that occurred at hospitals is accounted for in the overall fatality data on our COVID-19 tracker.”

The NYSDOH decided on May 3 to count nursing home residents who succumbed to COVID-19 off of the premises as non-nursing home deaths; in other words, if they had been whisked away to a hospital only to die there.

Montag told the DCNF that the state is opting to not disclose out of facility deaths “in order to maintain consistency and reliability in the data as presented, and to avoid any potential for double-counting.”

Even so, the number of deaths reported in New York nursing homes surpassed 5,400 last week, dwarfing other states, including the more populous states of California, Texas and Florida. (RELATED: Cuomo’s Nursing Home Disaster Looks Worse When Compared to Fellow Governors)

Of the nine states with the largest coronavirus outbreaks at long-term care facilities, according to a New York Times tracker, New York is the only state that omits the deaths of residents who died at hospitals from its reporting.

Of course, this mismanagement represents only one aspect of Cuomo’s initially slow, equivocating response to a novel virus that did devastating damage to parts of his densely populated state. As a report by Pro Publica outlining the early days of the crisis explains:

Cuomo’s conviction didn’t last. On March 22, he, too, shuttered his state. The action came six days after San Francisco had shut down, five days after de Blasio suggested doing similarly and three days after all of California had been closed by Newsom. By then, New York faced a raging epidemic, with the number of confirmed cases at 15,000 doubling every three or four days.

According to the latest tallies, 28,168 people have perished in New York.

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Michael Brigham
Michael Brigham
Michael Brigham has written for American Action News since the summer of 2019. His areas of expertise include foreign affairs, government, and politics, but regardless of the subject matter, he has a nose and an insatiable appetite for news. In his free time, he enjoys reading nonfiction, watching a mix of comedies and true crime documentaries, and spending time away from the swamp hiking in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

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