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Cuomo responds to mounting questions about nursing home deaths in NY

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his emergency powers had “nothing to do” with COVID deaths at nursing homes.

Posted: Feb 15, 2021 5:30 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2021 5:37 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his emergency powers had “nothing to do” with COVID deaths at nursing homes, claiming the virus was already there when he directed facilities to take sick residents back into the facilities.

“On my emergency powers, first – emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes. I’ve taken hundreds of actions; the legislature can reverse any action that I take. Not even by a bill, just by passing 50% of the Assembly and the Senate. They’ve never reversed a single action,” said Cuomo during a live briefing on Monday.

The legislature is calling the governor’s power into question after claims the administration withheld and underreported nursing home deaths cover up outbreaks caused by an executive order made in March.

Cuomo claims his March order didn’t affect the death rate at nursing homes, because COVID-19 was already present in the facilities.

“Ninety-eight percent of the people who took a person back from a hospital, who was probably no longer contagious, already had it in the facility. And they signed, and agreed, that they could handle it because they already had people with COVID in the nursing home,” he said.

The governor says staff and visitors brought the virus into the facilities, not patients returning from hospitals. He said this was at the time when health experts said COVID-19 could only be spread by symptomatic people.

“COVID did not get into the nursing homes, by people coming from hospitals. COVID got into the nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing home when we didn’t even know we had COVID," he said. "Staff walking into a nursing home, even though they were asymptomatic, because the national experts all told us, you could only spread COVID if you had symptoms – and they were wrong."

Cuomo also says the death rate was not affected by the order.

“If you look at the rate of death before the March 25 order, and after the order was rescinded, the rate of death is the same. By the way, if you look at the rate of death in the nursing homes in the spring, overall, and in the second surge, the winter/fall surge, the rate of death is the same.”

However, Cuomo did acknowledge that officials should have moved faster to release some information sought by lawmakers, the public and the press.

He still claims deaths in nursing homes and hospitals were always "fully, publicly and accurately reported,” and the state merely paused reporting to the state legislature to answer the DOJ inquiry first.

Cuomo has seen his image as a pandemic-taming leader dented by a series of disclosures involving nursing homes in recent weeks.

He said he would propose reforms involving nursing homes and hospitals in the upcoming state budget.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1650303

Reported Deaths: 47719
CountyCasesDeaths
Queens2118128784
Kings2109509118
Suffolk1628183086
Nassau1486692918
Bronx1445195881
Westchester1078572101
New York1039223906
Erie654191603
Richmond572011579
Monroe52679991
Rockland38628889
Orange37059720
Onondaga32452630
Dutchess22387408
Albany20890332
Oneida19735478
Niagara15324312
Broome14870336
Saratoga11970145
Schenectady10842178
Ulster10069228
Rensselaer9039132
Putnam836986
Chautauqua7336123
Chemung6440130
Oswego600289
Ontario580188
St. Lawrence553285
Steuben5509137
Cayuga537988
Jefferson480663
Sullivan475559
Herkimer4561107
Wayne447364
Cattaraugus442076
Genesee4411118
Madison384885
Clinton361026
Livingston355056
Tompkins345742
Columbia340096
Fulton333784
Montgomery3190107
Cortland316760
Allegany290481
Warren284155
Wyoming282049
Tioga280656
Greene264871
Orleans245181
Chenango243969
Otsego235543
Washington234352
Franklin208712
Lewis206730
Seneca162053
Delaware151933
Essex134226
Schoharie121012
Yates101426
Schuyler86812
Hamilton2842
Unassigned221140
Out of NY0192
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