Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who is plagued by now three scandals, has lifted visitation restrictions in the state’s nursing homes after a year that saw residents isolated from family and other guests.
The guidelines allow long-term care residents to receive visitors at all times, with some exceptions for those who have not been vaccinated or are in quarantine, or for those who reside in areas with high infection rates.
“From the very beginning we’ve used science and data to find the appropriate balance between protecting our most vulnerable populations in nursing homes and the importance of allowing safe contact with their loved ones,” Cuomo said.
“We now have three effective vaccines that are leading to significant decreases in long term care COVID cases and a robust staff testing system to limit community spread from entering a facility,” the governor continued. “Now is an appropriate time to take the next step and safely reconnect this community with their families.”
“The number of positive cases in nursing homes have decreased more than 80% since peaking in mid-January during a second COVID post-holiday surge,” the statement added. “DOH strongly recommends that all facilities offer testing for visitors as COVID-19 is still present in communities statewide. Compassionate Care visits, which had previously been allowed in all facilities at all times, will continue under this new guidance.”
Zucker, who is connected to Cuomo’s latest scandal relating to the alleged offering of preferential access to COVID testing to members of the governor’s family and other influential people last March, also commented on the new visitation guidelines.
“We understand the emotional toll that this community has experienced by being separated from their loved ones during a particularly challenging year,” Zucker said. “We’re confident that these facilities can continue strong infection control practices that will allow for the safe visitation they have dearly missed.”
The new directive replaces one from February, which required long-term care facilities to be COVID-free for two weeks before residents were permitted to have visitors.
The issue of how the coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected New York’s most vulnerable population has been a topic for nearly a year. Cuomo is accused of forcing state nursing homes to accept patients from March until May of 2020 who were actively infected.
In a Wednesday report published by the Times-Union of Albany, Cuomo and Zucker were both linked to another scandal after sources told the paper Cuomo’s family and others were given priority access to COVID tests during a time when testing was extremely limited.
CNN host Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother, was reportedly among those who were tested at home by state health officials.
Zucker was involved in the scandal, according to the Times-Union, which cited three unnamed sources.
“High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter,” the Times-Union reported.
Cuomo’s representatives denied any wrongdoing with regard to the testing scandal.
Cuomo is currently facing bipartisan calls to resign for those scandals and for mounting accusations that he was sexually inappropriate with women. Cuomo has also denied any wrongdoing and called for patience while his alleged behavior is investigated.
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