(The Center Square) – A report Thursday evening that New York sent more than 9,000 patients recovering from COVID-19 back into nursing homes in the spring of 2020 met immediate pushback from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
The Associated Press said that 9,056 people were returned to long-term care facilities in the early days of the pandemic under Cuomo’s policies that commanded the facilities to accept those patients.
Facing intense criticism, Cuomo wound up rescinding that policy in May 2020, but he and New York state health officials have faced accusations since then that the policy caused the death toll to skyrocket in the state.
Cuomo and his lieutenants have argued that there’s no direct evidence tying the policy to the spike in deaths in March through May of 2020. But they were reluctant for months to release numbers delineating the total number of deaths tied to the nursing homes, doing so this month only after a legal ruling and a report from Attorney General Letitia James made it clear that the state’s numbers were a significant undercount.
In a statement to the AP, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker sought once again to refute the idea that the administration’s policies had increased the death toll.
“At least 98% of nursing home facilities in the state had COVID in their facility before their first admission or readmission, and as we’ve seen across the nation, the major driver of infections appears to be from asymptomatic staff through no fault of their own,” Zucker told the AP.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi criticized the AP’s reporting on Twitter as “clickbait.”
“They are conflating those who got COVID in a nursing home, were hospitalized, recovered & returned to their homes with people who got it in the hospital,” Azzopardi wrote. “2 different universes. Either way 98 % of homes got COVID before their 1st admission or readmission.”
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