New York state Democratic lawmakers will open an inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes, the Niagra Gazette reported on Friday.
Around 6,300 residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New York have died during the pandemic, accounting for roughly one quarter of the state’s total coronavirus deaths. Critics of Cuomo’s response to the virus tend to cite his March 25 executive order mandating that nursing homes readmit residents even if they tested positive for coronavirus. The order was backed by New York health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.
“[Cuomo] has spent a lot of time pointing fingers at other people rather than taking ownership of his own mistakes and really thoughtfully addressing the problem,” State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, a Democrat representing parts of the Bronx and Westchester, told the Gazette.
Cuomo said earlier this week on MSNBC that asymptomatic nursing home staffers may have spread coronavirus when coming to work. Biaggi commented, “It’s a way for the governor to pass the buck and to avoid responsibility for what the state’s role here is.”
State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D., Manhattan) said lawmakers would hold a hearing on the issue in the near future.
“Hopefully, our hearing will make a lot of issues clearer and highlight the long-term problems at nursing homes with state funding and the oversight of nursing homes,” Gottfried said.
During the worst months of the pandemic in March and April, Cuomo saw his favorability rating among New Yorkers skyrocket, according to polls by Siena College. Cuomo’s favorability rating was 77-21 percent in April, with voters trusting Cuomo over President Trump 78-16 percent to guide the state’s reopening.
However, New York has seen a death rate of about 8 percent among coronavirus patients. New York City was hit especially hard by the pandemic, with 17,500 deaths and one in 50 residents of the city infected.