NY Dem hits Cuomo for giving cover to understaffed nursing homes that 'cried' about staff sick with COVID
Danielle Lieblein, a New York nursing home nutrition director, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo 'needs to get his facts together and present us with some real data at this point because none of it is making any sense.'
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to face criticism from fellow Democrats over the scandal involving coronavirus deaths at nursing homes.
Cuomo and his administration are taking heat over their lack of transparency regarding the number of nursing home casualties following his order for facilities to take in residents who had been infected. On Tuesday, however, New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim brought up an action Cuomo took right before he gave that directive.
"What gets lost about 3/25/20 Executive Order to send 9,000 COVID patients to nursing homes is that (according to the AG's report) NHs cried to the governor that half of their staff were sick/home of COVID!" Kim tweeted. "And that’s when Gov Cuomo handed out his blanket legal immunity to them."
Kim referenced the report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James in January that revealed how the Cuomo administration had underreported coronavirus deaths at nursing homes. The report referenced problems posed by insufficient staffing at a significant number of nursing homes in the state.
The report noted that there were "[p]re-existing insufficient staffing levels in many nursing homes" that "put residents at increased risk of harm during the COVID-19 pandemic," and that facilities with low staffing ratings had higher fatality rates.
It also said that some facilities that already had low staffing ratings were further hampered by staff members having to stay home due to COVID-19 infections or quarantines.
What Kim said "gets lost" in discussions of the nursing home problem is that in the middle of this crisis, two days before his directive forbidding nursing homes from turning away residents with COVID-19, he issued another order protecting understaffed nursing homes and professionals from criminal or civil liability.
That order provides broad immunity for acts or omissions while providing health care if the treatment of the patient was affected by "decisions or activities in response to or as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and in support of the state's directives."
While the order does not apply to cases of "willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct or intentional infliction of harm," it specifically says that "acts, omissions or decisions resulting from a resource or staffing shortage" cannot fall under those categories.
Kim is just one New York Democrat who has vocalized his opposition to Cuomo's handling of the pandemic. Several lashed out at the governor after a Monday press conference in which he made a disputed claim about his administration’s handling of requests for data on COVID-19-related deaths at nursing homes.
Cuomo told reporters that the Department of Justice and state legislature submitted requests for data at the same time last summer. He said his team opted to prioritize the federal inquiry and informed state lawmakers their request for data would be "paused" in the meantime.
"Trash. No one believes you," state Sen. Jessica Ramos tweeted in response.
"At no point did the Administration notify the legislature about a DOJ investigation," she said in another tweet. "People died and Cuomo lied then he had the gall to write a book."
New York state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera, both Democrats, also took aim at Cuomo’s remarks. Both lawmakers said they first learned of the DOJ’s probe into New York nursing home deaths in local newspapers, not from the governor’s office.