ALBANY, N.Y.- As much as Andrew Cuomo tries to deflect from his unconscionable decision to place COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, and more so have the audacity to blame the federal government, aka President Trump, information has come forth that Cuomo neglected to use available assets and directives from the Trump administration in response to New York’s coronavirus response.
Breitbart News is reporting that Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said as much on last Wednesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.
Verma had previously told Breitbart News that Cuomo, along with other Democrat governors had issued COVID-19 related directives that were opposed to federal government guidelines.
In May, Cuomo said that he had followed the federal government’s guidelines when he directed New York State’s nursing homes to accept patients with COVID-19. Cuomo said, “Why did the state do that with COVID patients and nursing homes? It’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance.”
Verma said that Cuomo was incorrect.
“The governor continues to be confused about the policy. I heard him yesterday talking about it, and he keeps saying that it was federal guidelines that allowed him to create the policy that he had, and I just want to be very clear with your listeners and the public, because it’s important to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
“Our guidelines very clearly say that a nursing home can accept somebody that’s COVID-positive, as long as the facility can follow the CDC guidelines around isolation. But it also says—and I’m reading this—it says, ‘If a nursing cannot, then it must wait until these precautions can be discontinued.’ So, the guidance couldn’t be any clearer.”
One question that has been asked by many is why these patients were not transferred to either the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort, or to the Javits Center, which was converted to a makeshift coronavirus treatment facility by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Verma agreed, saying that Cuomo did not fully utilize either facility.
“What I don’t understand about what happened in New York is that President Trump sent the USNS Comfort ship to New York,” she said. “He also had the Javits Center set up—basically—as a hospital. So, all those opportunities were there for Gov. Cuomo, and yet he continued to force nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients.”
Verma continued, “President Trump, very early on, said we want states to inspect all of their nursing homes, and New York had a very low level of inspections.
They didn’t go in there and inspect their nursing homes, and that’s an important piece of this, because if they had gone in and inspected the nursing homes, they would have had a better understanding of which nursing homes were prepared to take care of these patients.”
“Forcing nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients when they weren’t prepared obviously has had a devastating impact on our most vulnerable citizens,” Verma concluded.
During briefings held by the president’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, both Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx had advised that both elderly and vulnerable COVID-19 patients should be isolated, Verma recalled
“You don’t want to introduce somebody who’s COVID-positive and put them around other patients,” Verma said.
“You have to be able to isolate patients that are COVID-positive. We’ve told our vulnerable patients across the country [that] if you are an elderly person with underlying health conditions, you need to take precautions.
You need to stay at home. So why would we put a COVID-positive patient into a nursing home with close living quarters with very vulnerable patients?”
In conclusion, Verma said, “I think the science is very clear that this is the wrong thing to do.”
ProPublica reported that on April 3, a 34-year-old nurse working at a nursing home in Troy, New York was called into a supervisor’s office, where she was told that a resident who had recently gone to the hospital had tested positive for COVID-19, and was slated to return back to the facility.
This presented an obvious trick to the staff and residents of the facility.
One week prior, Cuomo and health commissioner Howard Zucker had made discharges such as this mandatory, whereby if a COVID-19 patient who required nursing home care was determined to be medically stable, the facility had to accept them. Nursing homes were also prohibited from even testing prospective residents—either those treated for COVID or otherwise hospitalized—to see if they were infected or still contagious.
The above was all laid out in an order effective March 25. New York was the only state in the country that prohibited testing of those either placed or returning to nursing homes.
After that March 25 order, the coronavirus ravaged New York state’s nursing homes, killing over 6,000 people, or roughly 6% of its total nursing home residents. ProPublica said that in all, more than 4,500 COVID-19 patients were sent to nursing homes across the state, according to an Associated Press report.
The nursing home in Troy, Diamond Hill refused to disclose how many COVID-19 patients were returned to the facility, while the state declined to say if they knew the number in that facility who had been returned.
As of June 18, 18 of Diamond Hill’s residents had died of the coronavirus, while 58 had been infected. Nearly half of the nursing home’s more than 100 workers had been sickened with the virus.
Other states that follows similar guidelines to Cuomo suffered similar results. For example, Michigan lost roughly 5% of it’s 38,000 nursing home residents, while New Jersey lost 12% of more than 43,000 residents.
Conversely, Florida, which barred such transfers only 1.6% of 73,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19. Likewise, California, which started out with a policy such as Cuomo’s moved toward a policy more like Florida’s and has only lost 2% of it’s 103,000 nursing home patients.
Cuomo and Zucker’s decision drew sharp criticism after it was announced across the board from medical experts, nursing home operators and residents’ families. In fact, Cuomo had declared that protecting nursing home residents was a top priority, referring to the threat as “fire through dry grass.”
While Diamond Hill is a private facility, one other facility in the same county it is located in is run by the county. Steve McLaughlin, the county executive said that Cuomo’s decision was ill-advised, and he defied it, refusing to allow any COVID-19 patients to return to or be placed in the county-run nursing home.
Both Cuomo, as well as his fellow power-mad governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey have said they took this approach to open up crucial beds when it appeared hospitals would be overrun by patients needing intensive care, despite the fact that Javits and the Comfort went unused.
Charles Branas, who is the head of the epidemiology department at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health said that the policy directives issued by Cuomo and others likely increased the Empire State’s death toll. “If you introduce 4,500 people sick with a potentially lethal disease into a vulnerable and notoriously imperfectly monitored population, people are apt to die.”
Cuomo and Zucker finally reversed the March 25 directive on May 10, just in the nick of time after thousands had already died.
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