Cuomo Tries To Deflect Blame for Nursing Home Deaths: 'Ask President Trump'


Remember the halcyon days when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was advertised as the exemplar of the kind of buck-stops-here leadership we needed in the White House?

That’s not necessarily the case these days, thanks to the Democrat’s nursing home scandal. But don’t worry, he’s got a good explanation for that: The buck stops with President Donald Trump.

During his coronavirus news briefing Wednesday, Cuomo claimed he came up with the policy that nursing homes cannot refuse seniors who test positive for the novel coronavirus based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That explanation came in response to a question about “a call for a federal probe into how the state handled the nursing home situation,” in particular Cuomo’s March 25 order requiring homes to take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals.

“Look, this is a political season. I get it. I have refrained from politics,” Cuomo said; if there was laughter in the room, it was inaudible in the video.

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“Anyone who wants to ask why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing home, it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance,” the governor said. “So they should ask President Trump. I think that will stop the conversation.”

When asked whether he was “fudging the numbers” when it comes to nursing home deaths — one accusation we’ve heard, considering 1,700 deaths in nursing homes went unreported in the state — Cuomo went back to blaming the CDC.

“Your first point, why did the state do that? Because the state followed President Trump’s CDC’s guidance. OK. That’s that answer? No numbers were changed,” he said.

A reporter from The New York Times (!) then brought up a good point: If these were Trump’s guidelines and if Cuomo has consistently demonstrated a willingness to stand up to the administration when its guidance has been in error, why didn’t he stand up to it this time?

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A brief summation of his response before we go through it in full: Well, it was the CDC’s guidelines — but, you know, it would have saved us hospital beds.

“Well, you have to remember the facts. I know you’re the New York Times, but facts are still facts, right? Even at The Times,” Cuomo said. (Calling them fake news in a nice way, impressive!)

“The CDC guidance said a nursing home cannot discriminate against the COVID patient because at that time, the issue was hospital capacity, right?” he said. “Remember hospital capacity? And we were dramatically increasing hospital capacity.

“If a person doesn’t need an urgent care bed in a hospital because they’re not urgently ill and they have — it can take two weeks to test negative. When you’re no longer urgently ill, is the best use of a hospital bed to have somebody sit there for two weeks in a hospital bed, when they don’t need the hospital bed, because they’re not urgently ill, they’re just waiting to test negative on the antibody test, which can take two weeks? And you need that hospital bed for somebody who may die without it?”

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To quote the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens, “Perhaps you notice how the denial is so often the preface to the justification.”

And by the by, before this policy began getting a lot of pushback — before the long-term care deaths began piling up, that is — you heard an awful lot about the justification and not a whole lot of Cuomo denying this was his policy.

“[Nursing homes] don’t have a right to object” to taking COVID-19 patients, Cuomo said during his April 23 coronavirus briefing, according to the New York Post. “That is the rule and that is the regulation and they have to comply with that.

“And the regulation is common sense: if you can’t provide adequate care, you can’t have the patient in your facility and that’s your basic fiduciary obligation — I would say, ethical obligation — and it’s also your legal obligation.”

At the time, Stephen Hanse, the CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association, said COVID-19 “spreads through nursing homes like fire through dry grass and the state’s March 25 policy served to unnecessarily to fan the flames of this fire.”

That “grass fire” has now claimed over 5,800 lives as of Wednesday, according to the Albany Times Union. But now that the fire is officially out of control, it’s the CDC that set it. Oh, and the nursing homes, too!

“A nursing home cannot accept a patient who they are not qualified to handle,” Cuomo said when pushed.

“Do you believe a nursing home operator would accept a patient who they knew they couldn’t care for?” he said. “Why would a nursing home operator do that? Why?

“We always had alternative beds. If they didn’t think that they could handle a COVID patient, they would say, ‘I can’t handle the COVID patient.'”

So in other words, they didn’t have the right to object — unless they couldn’t handle the COVID-19 patient, in which case they absolutely had the right to object. Got that?

Also, Cuomo remains resistant to an investigation even though — if what he’s saying is accurate — that investigation would point the finger at Trump’s CDC because of the fact that New York state had no volition in the matter.

Cuomo’s rationale for the nursing home policy has always been that seniors with COVID-19 who aren’t in extremis shouldn’t be taking up hospital beds that the multitude of patients sick with the coronavirus who would be flooding hotel rooms would need.

When that flood didn’t materialize and the biggest challenge facing New York turned out to be deaths in long-term care homes, Cuomo shifted blame onto the CDC, which he says was wholly responsible for the policy he spent weeks giving a full-throated, aggressive defense of.

Asking Trump won’t “stop the conversation,” particularly since no other state seems to be having a problem on the level New York is.

If anything, asking the president will just bounce the blame game back to Cuomo.

One wonders what the excuse will be then. Sadly, no matter what it is, the left will be inclined to believe Cuomo.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture