After three months, this is the best this guy can do to explain away his apocalyptic error of sending infected patients back into nursing homes? Watch two minutes here, then read on.
He made the same point about supposedly being blindsided by infection in Europe in a press briefing on May 8. Pro Publica nailed him for it in a scathing piece published a week later:
“Nobody was saying, ‘Beware of people coming from Europe.’ We weren’t testing people coming from Europe,” Cuomo said. “We weren’t telling anyone at the time if you have a European visitor or European guest, make sure they get tested. They walked right through the airport.”
The narrative, of course, fails to note people were not just flying from Europe to New York, but to California and other cities and states. And it seems to portray New York, its health departments and government officials, as somehow innocent bystanders, incapable of having themselves seen the threat from Europe and factored that in their response. That Italy and Spain were being overwhelmed by the virus was hardly a secret.
The whole point of that Pro Publica story, which is worth your time if you haven’t read it before, is that policy choices made by Cuomo and Bill de Blasio doomed New York to a singularly horrific encounter with COVID-19. On the opposite coast, fellow Democrats Gavin Newsom and London Breed moved quickly to lock down their state and city in the early days of the outbreak, snuffing community spread and preventing God knows how many deaths. The Wall Street Journal followed up with an investigation of its own a few weeks ago that confirmed that bad policy by Cuomo, de Blasio, and their health departments may have had an outsized impact on the ferocious spread of coronavirus in New York. “Early signs of the virus’s arrival—including a rise in patients with flulike symptoms visiting hospitals—went largely uninvestigated by hospital, state and city officials,” the WSJ reported. “While leaders in states like California and Ohio acted quickly to contain the spread, Messrs. Cuomo and de Blasio delayed taking measures to close the state and city even as the number of cases swelled, despite warnings from doctors, nurses and schoolteachers.”
California issued its lockdown order on March 19, when it had around 1,000 confirmed cases. New York had more than five times that number at the time and still wasn’t locked down for several more days.
Pro Publica came back recently with another investigation, this time aimed squarely at Cuomo’s infamous nursing-home policy. His order on March 25 didn’t just require nursing homes to reaccept infected patients, a measure designed to free up beds in hospitals for the expected surge. It also required them to accept new residents even if they had been treated for COVID-19 — and it couldn’t test them to see if they were still infected when they arrived. But it gets worse:
A complicating factor in evaluating the effect of the March 25 directive is that the state Health Department did not track in real time what happened when COVID-19 patients were transferred from hospitals to nursing homes. One senior nursing home industry official said the state Health Department didn’t even begin comprehensively counting COVID-19 deaths in these facilities until well into April, although the department has disputed that claim.
The policy lasted for nearly two disastrous months because Cuomo’s health department just wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in nursing homes. When all was said and done, the state lost six percent of its nursing-home population. Note: Not six percent of nursing-home residents who tested positive, six percent of the entire state nursing-home population. (In New Jersey, which followed a similar policy, it was 12 percent.) One New York county executive flatly refused to implement Cuomo’s policy at the sole nursing home located in his county, deeming it borderline insane. Not one resident there has died of COVID-19.
One reason Cuomo’s touchy about this subject is that it’s punctured his media bubble to such a degree that he’s now being openly mocked for it by other governors. Remember last week how he threatened to quarantine visitors to New York from Florida because of the outbreak there? Ron DeSantis had a thought about that:
Florida's @GovRonDeSantis taking a shot at @NYGovCuomo during today's COVID briefing. Cuomo says he's mulling a quarantine on travelers from Florida (FL is already doing this to travelers from NY). Here was DeSantis's response: pic.twitter.com/YhVqrIUV6r
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) June 20, 2020
The other reason he’s touchy is that there’s some grumbling in New York about the state’s cautious pace on reopening. The spikes happening in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona that reopened early are a chance for him to pat himself on the back for his own alleged prudence, which he does in the clip at some length. But that leads him into a lie when he says, “The number of deaths [elsewhere] are still going up, Stephanie. Look at Florida.” But deaths in Florida aren’t going up. Cases are going up, but because those cases are disproportionately among younger people who can weather the virus, deaths are flat — for now:
He’s flailing here because he has nothing credible to say in defense of his nursing-home policy. It was an egregious mistake with egregious life-and-death consequences. There’s no way to spin it.