Gov. Andrew Cuomo partially reversed a March executive order Sunday that prevented nursing homes from denying admission of patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Patients must now test negative for the virus before hospitals can admit them to assisted living facilities, Cuomo said during an Albany press briefing Sunday.
“We’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit,” said Cuomo during the Sunday briefing.
“This virus uses nursing homes … They are ground zero,” Cuomo said.
The readmission policy adopted March 25 stated: “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
The March policy was designed to prevent discrimination, though nursing homes can refer COVID-positive patients elsewhere if they couldn’t care for them, Cuomo said. (RELATED: FLASHBACK To March 3: De Blasio Asks New Yorkers To Ignore Coronavirus, Get On With Their Lives)
Just 12% of New York’s roughly 26,000 coronavirus deaths have occurred in nursing homes, Cuomo said. “Whatever we’re doing has worked, on the facts,” he added.
Seniors are particularly at risk of contracting and dying from the illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in March.
“Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and the risk increases with age,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during press briefing March 10.
New York state revealed in April that at least 3,316 people in nursing homes had died of coronavirus at their residences or in hospitals across the state. The virus was first confirmed in Wuhan, China, before spreading across the world, landing in the United States where it had been a factor in more than 80,000 deaths by the end of April.
“If you are positive (for COVID-19), you should be admitted back to a nursing home,” New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said during one of Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefings in April. “The necessary precautions will be taken to protect the other residents there.”
A New York Democrat disagreed with Zucker’s argument a the time.
Zucker’s assertion that “necessary precautions” were being taken was “clearly not the case,” Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim said in April. “It’s either he’s lying or they have absolutely no idea what’s going on on the ground.”
“The staff, the families, everyone is telling me there’s completely a lack of support and they don’t have the necessary PPE [personal protective equipment] to be safe,” Kim added.
Cuomo is not the only New York politician who is feeling the heat for decisions about the pandemic response.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed the impact of coronavirus in March nearly two weeks before blasting President Donald Trump for not mobilizing the military to confront the outbreak.
“Since I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” de Blasio told his Twitter followers on March 3, no more than two weeks before likening the outbreak to a type of World War that required nationalizing industries.
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