It’s truly obscene: Gov. Cuomo not only forced group homes for the intellectually and developmentally disabled to take in the COVID-infected, as he did with nursing homes, he has left the group-home mandate in effect even now, months after publicity shamed him into reversing the nursing-home order.
The gov and his minions are also still stonewalling on the resulting group-home death toll, too, even after they were forced to admit the truth about homes for the elderly.
This makes it obvious that only the Post-led public outcry got Cuomo to drop the nursing-home mandate. It also suggests that his administration thinks the lives of New Yorkers with intellectual or developmental disabilities just don’t matter.
The state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities’ directive issued April 10 is strikingly similar to the nursing-home order. It bars residential facilities from denying admission or re-admission to anyone “based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” They’re not even allowed to test a hospitalized patient for the virus before admission.
And it appears to have been just as lethal. Group-home residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities were three times more likely to contract the coronavirus and three times more likely to die from it than the general New York population, a months-long investigation conducted by Disability Rights New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest found.
The report, released this week, notes the “daunting task” of minimizing virus spread “in residences where more than a dozen individuals may reside and share bathrooms and other living areas.” Imagine how impossible it must be when a contagious patient is forced into such a living situation. That echoes a study released last year that found intellectually or developmentally disabled group-home residents had more than twice the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes than New Yorkers in general.
OPWDD reports that more than 6,900 out of nearly 35,000 group-home residents have caught COVID, 552 fatally. But that’s likely an undercount — just like the Department of Health’s nursing-home numbers. And the state for nine months has evaded valid Freedom of Information Law requests for the full data, just as it did on nursing-home info.
Add these abuses to the “reason to impeach NOW” file.