Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday complained about the “political heat” he has faced over coronavirus deaths in nursing homes — claiming the facilities are now safer for seniors than staying at home.
“In New York, we’re number 46 in the nation in terms of percentage of deaths at nursing homes, compared to the total percentage,” Cuomo told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“If they want to point fingers, not at New York,” he insisted. “I’ve taken political heat, okay? There are facts and there’s politics.”
“We’re number 46, you have 45 other states to point fingers at first,” he said, referring to data recently compiled by the New York Times.
New York has recorded 6,250 COVID-19-related nursing-home deaths — but a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has said that number might be much higher. It is also almost impossible to accurately determine a fatality rate because New York facilities do not have to report the number of positive cases, The Times pointed out in its analysis.
Cuomo has faced widespread criticism over a controversial order to forbid nursing homes from turning away coronavirus-infected patients from hospitals, which is widely blamed for the wild spread among residents. The policy was partially repealed in May.
Cuomo insisted that Empire State seniors who need care are now safer in nursing homes than they would be at home.
“We’re testing every week every nursing home employee,” he said. “So you could argue that they are safer than a senior citizen at home, who is receiving care at home.”
Cuomo also heralded the latest figures for New York. Just five deaths were reported in the state Saturday, while hospitalizations are now below 800.
But he said he feared that the alarming surge in cases in other states could destroy all the progress.
“If these states keep going up, we’re going to have a national crisis like we have never seen,” he warned. “I’m afraid the infection rate in the other states will come back to New York and raise that rate again.”
That could also affect the planned re-opening of schools at the start of the next school year, he admitted.
“We have plans to open schools. But … it’s two months away. Anything can happen in two months,” he said. “If this continues across the country … kids are going to be home for a long time.”
Cuomo blamed President Trump and his team for being “basically in denial,” saying, “They don’t want to tell the American people the truth.”
“This is a virus, it doesn’t respond to politics. You can’t tweet at it, you have to treat it,” he quipped.
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