New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he wasn't aware that his state had a policy of allowing the admission and readmission of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 into nursing homes, the New York Post reported.
What's the story? Nearly 3,500 of New York's coronavirus-related deaths have been people from nursing homes who either died in their residences or in hospitals. More than 2,000 of those deaths occurred in New York City.
New York health commissioner Howard Zucker said that despite the heightened fatality rate of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, residents who had the highly-contagious virus were allowed back into their residences to be around an extremely vulnerable population, as long as some precautions were observed.
Zucker elaborated on the policy during a Monday press briefing. From the New York Post:
"The necessary precautions will be taken to protect the other residents there," he said during Cuomo's daily coronavirus briefing in Albany.
Zucker was asked to explain how the policy could be justified, given how state officials have repeatedly said how quickly the virus can spread and how vulnerable nursing home residents are to COVID-19.
"And that's why we're working closely with the nursing home leadership and the individuals who are working in the nursing homes to protect those individuals who are coming back who have COVID-19 and went back to the nursing homes and where they came from," he said.
Cuomo unaware? Earlier this week, Cuomo said he was not aware of the nursing home admission policy regarding COVID-19. And Wednesday, even as thousands of New York residents had died of the coronavirus, Cuomo emphasized that it wasn't his job to provide personal protective equipment to nursing homes that were ordered to admit coronavirus patients.
"We have been helping them with more PPE but, again, it's not our job," Cuomo said, the Post reported.
"You'll be out of business if you're not providing your staff with the right equipment. You're out of business. That we can do," Cuomo said. [Nursing homes] have to do the job they're getting paid to do, and if they're not doing the job they're getting paid to do, and they're violating state regulations, then that's a different issue—then they should lose their license."