Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deadly nursing-home mandate — which he still won’t acknowledge was a mistake. He’s even shrugged off questions about its impact with a callous, “Who cares?”
On March 25, 2020, Cuomo’s Department of Health issued the infamous order that forced nursing homes to take in COVID-positive patients. They weren’t even allowed to test admissions for the virus. Why? His donor pals at the Greater New York Hospital Association were worried hospitals would become overwhelmed (which never happened).
Home operators immediately protested, but the administration refused to let them put contagious patients in the field hospital at the Javits Center or on the USNS Comfort — even though Cuomo had warned the virus would spread through nursing homes “like fire through dry grass.”
The order became public knowledge only after The Post’s Bernadette Hogan asked about it at a press conference. Eventually, the resulting public furor led Team Cuomo to quietly rescind it — while leaving intact a similar order that covered homes for the developmentally disabled.
Meanwhile, DOH quit including in its tally of nursing-home COVID deaths those who died after being transferred to hospitals. The draft of a July DOH report included the full toll, but Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker got that data deleted from the final product.
The DOH stonewalled Freedom of Information requests for the numbers for at least eight months, even refusing to tell state lawmakers — falsely claiming that it couldn’t compile the data accurately.
It wasn’t until Attorney General Tish James released a damning report in January suggesting the state was undercounting nursing-home deaths by 50 percent that Team Cuomo came clean: In a single day, the count changed from 8,711 deaths to 12,743.
How did the gov respond? “Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.” People care because some of them died because of your order, sir.
Team Cuomo’s cover story for the coverup was supposed fears that the Trump crowd would weaponize the truth. In fact, the coverup started months before Washington started asking any questions.
Oh, and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), whose uncle died of COVID in a nursing home, says the gov personally threatened to “destroy” him if he didn’t back Team Cuomo’s excuses.
Kim stood his ground and spoke to a Brooklyn memorial last weekend honoring the more than 15,000 nursing-home residents who’ve died. So did other family members of those lost, like Tracey Alvino. “He is one of Gov. Cuomo’s uncounted,” she told the crowd of her late father. “He may be just a number to Melissa DeRosa that she omitted from her report, but to my family, he was the glue that kept us together.”
Cuomo still hasn’t learned his lesson. Indeed, he’s still out to please the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Empire Center reports, by pushing a new law to make insurers reimburse hospital claims without verifying that treatment is medically necessary.
He’s utterly shameless.