Gov. Cuomo fires back at accusations over state's handling of COVID-19 nursing home deaths
Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the state's handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes Friday in the wake of a critical report released by Attorney General Letitia James.
The report alleges the Department of Health may have undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths by as much as 50% - in part because residents who passed away at the hospital were not included.
Gov. Cuomo fired back, saying the deaths in hospitals and nursing homes were recorded separately to avoid double counting.
"I believe everyone did the best they could," says Cuomo.
The report also revealed a lack of compliance with protocols that put residents at increased risk of harm, along with insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing home staff. It also said that the state-issued guidance on March 25, which essentially required nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, led to the deaths of at least 4,000 nursing home residents.
Charice Gaines lost her mother to COVID-19 after contracting it inside a Westchester nursing home.
"Do better. What if it was your mom, your dad?" says Gaines. "I wish she was still here. She was only 66. We had more things to do."
Gaines blames the state's policy to place COVID-positive patients in nursing homes. Cuomo says the state followed federal guidelines and no facilities were forced to accept patients they couldn't care for.
Assemblyman Mike Lawler's grandfather contracted COVID-19 in a nursing home but luckily survived. He is now pushing the Legislature to launch an investigation and revoke Cuomo's emergency powers granted at the start of the pandemic.
"They got infected because of a policy the governor issued so for them to say it's not undercounted because the total numbers are the same -- that's a bunch of malarkey to quote our new President Joe Biden," says Lawler.