Governor Cuomo

During the pandemic, I have listened to dozens and dozens of press briefings with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. I appreciated his updates on COVID, the latest medical findings, and what New York was doing to address the illness and all the other issues that arose from it. I live in upstate New York, so the information he provided was especially relevant to me, but there were many around the United States and even abroad who tuned in.

In recent weeks, there have been legislators and press members who have been critical of the governor and his administration’s handling of the reporting of deaths in relation to nursing homes. The state reported deaths by where they occurred; people who died in hospitals were reported as hospital deaths, even if they had been nursing home residents prior to hospital admission. This was the state’s consistent practice and one which was straightforward and easy to compile from death certificates. All COVID deaths in the state were reported, categorized by place of death.

The problem arose because legislators and the press wanted to know how many nursing home residents later died in hospitals and how many formerly hospitalized patients died in nursing homes. This information is more difficult to compile and the governor’s staff, who worked seven days a week for months on end, did not have time to comb through all the records to assemble a report. Unfortunately, this was perceived as a cover-up of something nefarious and things have gotten totally out of hand with accusations flying everywhere.

I am annoyed at those in the legislature who are upset with the governor over this. When they requested the information they were not in session. Like many states, the New York legislature only convenes part of the year, usually January through June. If the legislature wanted this information, they could have offered to have the legislative staff compile it, rather than expecting the executive staff to add it to their already long list of duties.

There has also been questioning of the state policy to release COVID patients to skilled nursing facilities after hospitalization, especially in spring 2020 when the virus was so widespread in New York. This was based on federal policy. It got patients who had recovered sufficiently out of the hospital, putting them in a more comfortable, less risky environment while freeing up hospital space for more critically ill patients. Although these discharged patients were likely no longer contagious, the nursing homes had to be equipped to place them in isolation. Because I was listening to Governor Cuomo’s press conference every day, I knew that, contrary to some reporting at the time, nursing homes were not “forced” to take patients; they only accepted them if they were equipped to do so. Somehow, this morphed into stories that COVID was introduced into nursing homes by these recovering patients. In truth, COVID entered the nursing homes through staff who were living, shopping, etc. in the local community.

I am not an uninterested bystander in this case. My father lives in a senior facility which has been operating under COVID precautions for almost a year now. Despite that, they have lost at least six residents to COVID and have had more infections from which residents were able to recover. The cases originated from the outside community, not from a resident discharged from the hospital. The staff of the facility is tested at least weekly and screened for symptoms daily, but, as we know, the coronavirus is virulent before symptoms and before it shows up as positive in a test, so staff have unknowingly exposed residents, their families and co-workers.

Somehow, it has become easier to just blame Governor Cuomo. The legislature is threatening to revoke the emergency powers it granted to the governor to handle the pandemic, which is their right to do. However, if they do that, they had better be prepared to remain in session and react quickly to changing circumstances with disease variants, vaccinations, etc. The New York state legislature is not known for being agile – or even functional a great deal of the time – so they had better think carefully before they vote. It’s a lot easier to complain than it is to govern.

There have also been complaints of the governor bullying people and recently of sexual harassment. I am not commenting on those accusations at all as I have no basis to judge their veracity. I did want to address the reports on deaths and nursing homes because those are matters of public record and were clear to me as they were unfolding. Suffering the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without having questions about the circumstances of their death circulated in the press.

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

11 thoughts on “Governor Cuomo”

  1. Yes, exactly to all you said. Here’s an aside on nursing homes and related situations, from someone who has been on site observing frequently, for years. As soon as it was announced that no visitors would be allowed, I was reminding people that that would be cutting depended upon staffing about in half, and they had better be making some other arrangements. When family come every day to “help Grandma eat” they are doing work that some one on staff is going to have to do, when they are not allowed to do it. When volunteers, who were retired after many years of working in medicine, are kept away, you are loosing expertise that is not available in people who are trained only in following the most simple protocols. And, despite the words NURSING Homes, the standard procedure for the care of any resident who came down sick with anything, had always been to pack them off to the hospital. No one working in a nursing home is expected to have any real background in infection control. To suddenly get all bent out of shape about people not rising to an occasion they were never hired for and doing it with fewer man-hours available for anything, really shows how poor the whole national view of care for the elderly has been all along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Anita, for your insightful comment. Besides the loss of family and volunteer help, nursing homes were also dealing with being short-staffed because of workers out sick or under quarantine, which made things even worse. All the staff should have been instructed in isolation protocols to deal with flu, gastrointestinal bugs, etc. but COVID requires much stricter procedures, including having negative pressure rooms available. Despite all this, New York has a better record with nursing home deaths than most other states.

      Like

  2. I am so glad to see you write about this. I had no idea what the truths were, but the accusations seemed off. It is a sad state of affairs when those on the sidelines can find so much fault with those in the trenches. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Maggie. Some people will find fault everywhere and forget that decisions have to be made with the data available at the time. It’s like people complaining about Dr. Fauci very early in the crisis recommending against the public wearing masks, forgetting that, at the time, masks were in short supply and needed by health professionals and the data on airborne transmission was not yet clear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The criticism of Dr. Fauci in those early days continues to frustrate me. It is similar to what we are experiencing now with the vaccine. We do not know enough yet to know how social interactions will impact the population.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. People forget how science works – you form a hypothesis and then collect data to prove or disprove it. Dr. Fauci and other public health officials were giving the best advice possible with the data known at the time.

          It is challenging for those of us without professional medical training to make thoughtful decisions about issues like the safety of interacting with other immunized people indoors and maskless, but, until there is more data, the public health officials are not going to make blanket recommendations. It’s clear, though, that until large swaths of the population are protected, crowds are a no-no.

          Like

  3. There are so many moving pieces to this it’s hard to dig to the truth. This is a new perspective on what’s sounded like a knee-jerk “but he lied!” rash of stories. Thanks, Joanne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit that my perspective is informed by being on hand to watch the story unfolding in real time. There were definitely some members of the press who cherry-picked quotes from the governor rather than looking at the complexity of the situation. There still are some doing that.

      Like

Any thoughts? Please share.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s