Old lives don’t matter, at least not to the devil who went down to Georgia recently for a publicity stunt. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a doctor and the only senator to test positive for the covid-19 virus, said on Fox News recently, “I think Governor Cuomo should be impeached for what he did, for the disastrous decision he made to send patients with coronavirus back to nursing homes.”
Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that recovering coronavirus cases be sent back to nursing homes went into effect on March 25 and was in effect for 46 days before it was rescinded. The same order barred nursing homes from requiring that incoming patients be tested for the coronavirus prior to admission or readmission.
More than 6,600 nursing home residents have died in NYS of the coronavirus, a number, at this writing, about equal to total covid deaths in Florida. (A new AP report states that the number of nursing home deaths in NYS are under counted.) Two of those nursing home deaths were the in-laws of Janice Dean who wrote an opinion piece for USA Today in which she blames Cuomo for their deaths. She says Cuomo is “desperate for a scapegoat.” She further states “But, the man who said, ‘I assume full responsibility’ and ‘If you are upset by what we have done, be upset at me,’ has never taken that responsibility.”
John Levine of the New York Post who recently interviewed former governor, George Pataki, wrote that while Pataki wouldn’t take pot shots at Andrew Cuomo, insiders told him that Pataki is “seething about Andrew Cuomo and has been particularly appalled by the governor’s executive order forcing nursing homes to accept seniors who tested positive for COVID-19. At least one Pataki confidante said the situation has angered him enough to even consider running against Cuomo in 2022.”
Of course, the Democrat controlled legislature would never fulfill Rand Paul’s desire to impeach Cuomo. Nevertheless, that same legislature convened hearings on August 3, on how Governor Cuomo handled nursing homes during the ongoing covid pandemic, which at the time looked like a step in the right direction. The call for hearings has been bipartisan. Legislators from both major parties have called for hearings, as have newspapers as diverse as the New York Post and the Albany Times-Union. The hearings themselves, however, were simply whitewash for the governor’s actions. NYS Health Commissioner Howard Zucker did not bother to show up for the second day of hearings.
Whitewash is all we have seen so far. A report released on July 6 by the NYS Department of Health blamed nursing home staff for bringing the virus into nursing homes. No doubt some employees did bring it into the homes, but that by itself does not exonerate Andrew Cuomo for his misguided mandate.
Cuomo has also stated he was just following CDC guidelines when he issued the March 25th mandate. This is laughable because Cuomo, who is the George Wallace of the 21st Century as far as states’ rights are concerned, has made it a practice to defy Trump administration orders, mandates and guidelines. He only needs the Trump administration when he is looking for a scapegoat or money to bail New York State out of its fiscal crisis.
At one point Cuomo appears to blame nursing home patients who died for their own deaths when he said, “Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. This is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive.” Again there is some truth in what Cuomo says, but it does not exonerate him from sending older people who had the virus into nursing homes, particularly when the Trump administration had provided the hospital ship Comfort, and the Javits Center was available with 1,700 beds, neither of which NYS ever used.
So the legislative hearings were necessary. The legislators needed to listen to everyone: nursing home employees, nursing home patients, relatives of people in the nursing home and yes even Cuomo himself. However, a complete bipartisan investigation did not happen. Now we need an independent investigation, which Cuomo opposes. We also need to find out why the state’s tally of nursing home employees infected with the coronavirus does not match the counts of the nursing homes, particularly when it is the nursing homes who provide the data to the state.
I also want to know why New York State leads the nation, not only in the number of nursing home deaths, but in the total number of deaths from the coronavirus. All kinds of theories have been advanced, but I want facts not theories. Since the legislative hearings failed to provide answers concerning Governor Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus, an independent investigation is all the more necessary.