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“New York followed the president’s agency guidance,” Cuomo said Saturday at his press conference. “…. What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”
Cuomo has been under scrutiny from GOP politicians who say the governor should have never allowed recovering coronavirus patients to leave hospitals and go back to their residential nursing homes to spread the contagious virus.
Nursing care facilities, home to some of the most vulnerable citizens, have been coronavirus hotspots around the country. New York leads the nation with the most reported coronavirus nursing home deaths at more than 5,000 — though the state changed how it counts deaths so the numbers of nursing home patient deaths could be even higher.
Cuomo’s response Saturday echoed his past answers, that he was only following guidelines from the Trump administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is a political season, I get it,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “I’m not going to get into the political back-and-forth, but anyone who wants to ask why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes, it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance.”
Cuomo added: “They should ask President Trump. I think that will stop the conversation.”
A scathing Associated Press report out Friday was highly critical of the way in which Cuomo had handled the state’s nursing home coronavirus crisis. It found more than 4,300 coronavirus-infected elderly patients were sent to vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped amid criticisms it was accelerating the nation’s deadliest outbreaks.
CDC guidelines require any newly admitted and readmitted resident with a COVID-19 case to be placed in a designated COVID-19 care unit, while those who have met the criteria to have recovered can return to a regular unit in the nursing home. New York – along with California and New Jersey – at the time had specific guidelines saying that nursing homes cannot refuse to take patients from hospitals solely because they have the coronavirus.
After mounting criticism that the policy put the most vulnerable people at risk and contributed to a high number of fatalities, New York reversed course May 10. Now hospitals can only send patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 to nursing homes.
GOP lawmakers have requested a federal probe into Cuomo’s policy to send recovering coronavirus patients back to nursing homes and related concerns that deaths at the facilities are being knowingly under-counted.
The state estimates that more than 5,000 nursing home and longterm-care facility patients have died from coronavirus, but a new report says New York could be drastically under-reporting the deaths — prompting Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and fellow GOP lawmakers to call on an investigation.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Brian Flood contributed to this report.