Cuomo saw COVID-19’s threat to nursing homes. Then he risked adding to it.

States that issued orders similar to Cuomo’s recorded comparably grim outcomes. Michigan lost 5% of roughly 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19 since the outbreak began. New Jersey lost 12% of its more than 43,000 residents.

In Florida, where such transfers were barred, just 1.6% of 73,000 nursing home residents died of the virus. California, after initially moving toward a policy like New York’s, quickly revised it. So far, it has lost 2% of its 103,000 nursing home residents.

The decision by Cuomo and Zucker, whose department regulates all nursing homes in the state, drew fire as soon as it was announced from medical experts, nursing home operators and the families of residents. Cuomo himself had said protecting nursing home residents was the state’s top priority, once calling the threat “fire through dry grass.”

Steve McLaughlin, the county executive where Diamond Hill is located, viewed the state’s directive as madness and chose to defy it, refusing to allow any COVID-19 patients to be returned to, or placed in, the one nursing home run by the county. The 320-bed facility, Van Rensselaer Manor, has not seen a single COVID-19 death.