Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed Friday that it didn’t matter whether COVID patients died in hospitals or nursing homes.
Cuomo — whose much-touted response to the coronavirus pandemic has been placed under a microscope by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James — appeared to argue that because the overall death toll was the same, whether or not his nursing home policy had played a role was irrelevant. (RELATED: Cuomo Administration Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths In Nursing Homes By 50%, New York AG Says)
Cuomo took a series of questions during his Friday press briefing, the first since AG James released a report indicating that Cuomo’s administration may have underreported the number of nursing home COVID deaths by as much as 50%.
At one point, after he was asked what he might say to the family members of those who had died — many of whom believe Cuomo’s March 25 order forcing nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their COVID status contributed to those deaths — Cuomo invoked his own father’s death to suggest they might just feel better having someone to blame.
“What I would say is everyone did the best they could,” Cuomo began, first pointing his finger as he has before at the federal government and claiming that he had only been following federal guidelines.
“Whether a person died in the hospital or in the nursing home, people died, people died,” he continued, noting that older people with preexisting conditions — many of whom reside in long-term-care facilities — were the most likely to suffer from advanced disease or death.
Cuomo went on to note that the national average was one-third of all deaths coming from nursing homes and that New York fell below that average with 28%. He did not address the fact that James’ report, if accurate, would likely change that standing.
“New York State, we’re only about 28%, only, but we’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes — but who cares?” he asked. “Thirty-three, twenty-eight, died in a hospital, died in a nursing home, they died.”
Cuomo then pivoted again to the loss of his own father, who passed away in 2015, adding, “And I dealt with the loss of my father. Of the pain is so incredible and inexplicable and why and why and why? It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy. And I understand may be instinct to blame or to find some relief for the pain that you’ feeling, but it is a tragedy and if the tragedy that continues today. “