ALBANY, NY – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to apologize for his administration’s decision to let Covid-19 patients enter nursing homes during a briefing Monday, his first public comments since a top aide said last week that the governor’s office ” froze “. when asked to provide data on deaths in nursing homes.
However, the governor, who seemed far more amusing than usual and strangled several times, said he was sorry that his administration did not prioritize the release of complete information on the spread of Covid-19 in care facilities. He repeatedly said that passivity created a “void” of accurate information that was filled in by political opponents.
But when asked by reporters, he refused to give an apology for the March order that nursing homes should accept patients with coronavirus.
“Excuse me? Look, I’ve repeatedly said we made a mistake in creating the void,” Cuomo said. “The void allowed misinformation and conspiracy, and now people are left with the thought of ‘Did my beloved have to die?’ And it’s a brutal, brutal question to ask a person, and I want everyone to know that everything was done – everything was done – by the best minds in the best interest, and the last thing we wanted to do was last thing I wanted to do was aggravate a terrible situation. ”
Here’s a summary of how Cuomo defended himself in a topic that has besieged his administration in recent weeks:
On the original order:
Decisions like the one his administration made about sending some patients from hospitals to nursing homes should not be considered “political decisions,” he said. “They are all made on the best information that doctors have at the time. … No one has been here before. ”
“Patients, especially the elderly, should not stay in hospitals longer than necessary because they can get a secondary infection. …. Remember at the time what was going on in March, the experts projected that our problem and our critical needs were the capacity of the hospitals. ”
There is no evidence that the decision was in fact responsible for the high death toll in group facilities, Cuomo argued, pointing to charts showing that the percentage of Covid deaths in New York that occurred in such places was lower than in other states.
“We have 613 nursing homes in the state – 365 received one person from the hospital. Of the 365 who received a person from this March 25 guidance, 98 percent of those 365 already had Covid in their facility. Covid did not enter the nursing homes of people coming from hospitals. Covid entered the hospitals by staff entering the nursing home as they did not even know they had Covid. ”
What he might have done differently:
“Most of all, the void we created allowed disinformation, and it created more concerns for family loved ones,” he said.
“It was awful. And then the void started in information that we created, misinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and now people have to hear it and they do not know what the truth is. The truth is that everyone did everything they could. The truth is, you had the best medical professionals and advice on the planet. The truth is, it was in the midst of a terrible pandemic. The truth is that Covid is attacking the elderly. The truth is with all we know, people are still dying in nursing homes today. ”
On the US Department of Justice probe:
ONE New York Post report last week claimed that senior staff member Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers that the administration had not released data on deaths in nursing homes because they were trying to protect them from federal prosecutors. The administration has since said that the quotes used to back up this idea were misrepresented, an idea that Cuomo elaborated on.
“Last August, the Ministry of Justice sent a letter to democratic governors. … The New York state legislature also sent a letter requesting information about nursing homes. We paused the request of the state legislators while we finished the DOJ request. We told both houses, the Assembly and the Senate that we had a DOJ request for information and we prioritized it. ”
The DOJ request was “fully answered,” Cuomo said.
But lawmakers have said in recent days that Cuomo did not tell them anything like that. “Apart from what was reported in the news, the speaker had no knowledge of an official investigation by the Justice Department,” Assembly President Carl Heastie’s office said in a Friday statement.
That is due to a lack of legislators, Cuomo said Monday.
“The staff of the Assembly and the Senate were told that we responded to the DOJ. … Who the staff told about their staff, I do not know. … Legislative staff was told by my staff. OKAY? The legislature was told. Top legislators were told. … We told the houses and I’m sure there was a breakdown. ”
On call to investigate his administration:
“There is nothing to investigate.”
About his emergency powers:
The post-story prompted several state legislators to announce their support for efforts to weaken Cuomo’s emergency powers, which allowed him to suspend or pass state laws by decree due to the pandemic.
“Emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes,” Cuomo noted.
(The March decision was a directive of the Department of Health, which could have been issued even in normal times.)
He also made the case that he is much better placed to handle things like shutdown orders than lawmakers.
“These are public health decisions, they are not local political decisions, and they must be made on a public health basis. This virus is serious. And I understand that these decisions are difficult politically. … If you made these decisions through a vote, none of them would happen and more people would die. ”
The daily news reported Sunday that some legislators have proposed using the contingency powers and the possibility of subpoenas as bargaining chips in future budget negotiations.
“You can not use … an investigation to exploit a person in another case,” said Cuomo, who agreed to shut down a Moreland Commission who investigated corruption on the legislation to get some reforms of campaign funding into the 2014 budget. “You cannot use the subpoena or the threat of a subpoena or the threat of an investigation to exploit a person to do something else. It is illegal. ”
On his staff:
DeRosa, whose conversation with lawmakers got the recent anger over nursing homes, was particularly silent during Monday’s briefing. She usually attends more than anyone other than the governor.
Cuomo, however, took time to praise State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.
“If we were to pay him what he was worth, we could not afford it, and he gave his best advice with the information he had at the time,” he said. “I would trust Dr. Zucker with my mother. “That’s why I trust him with your mother’s care. I did not want anyone as health commissioner that I would not trust with my mother, and that’s why I trust him with your mother.”
“Our focus will be on profit-oriented nursing homes. … I have long believed that there is a tension in a nursing home that is meant for profit because these institutions are trying to make money. If you are trying to make money, it is too easy to sacrifice patient care, ”he said.
He will propose mandates such as “how much profit you can get” as a nursing home owner in his upcoming budget changes, he said.
Response to Monday’s briefing:
“The governor seems to be unable to understand that it was his administration’s fault and no one else’s. He continues to shift the blame everywhere but on himself and his top officials, “Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said in a statement.
“Governor Cuomo is right – a ‘void’ has caused a problem,” said Dutch Republican Marc Molinaro, a Republican. respect for the people of New York. His wandering, lying, incoherent finger-pointing press conference was just the last chapter in his failed administration. ”
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