Cuomo gaslights nursing home deaths as public relations management problem
For New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all those 15,000 nursing home deaths brought on by COVID patients coming back from hospitals and into nursing homes instead of President Trump's offshore hospital ships and the cover-up in numbers was a communications problem.
Here's his Feb. 16 press conference where he refused to apologize for his March 25 memo forcing nursing homes to take in COVID patients returning from hospitals, and then covered up the death toll by splitting death toll numbers between hospitals and nursing homes, to make the numbers look smaller:
Apologize? Look, I have said repeatedly, we made a mistake in creating the void. We made a mistake in creating the void. When we didn’t provide information, it allowed press, people, cynics, politicians to fill the void. When you don’t correct disinformation, you allow it to continue. And we created the void, not because people weren’t working hard, Mike, because you know how hard people were working and well, you should have prioritized providing more information. Yes, yes. In retrospect, we should have prioritized providing more information. I get the operational demand. I don’t like to second guess my team. They were all working 24 hours a day. Remember where this was? You’re in the middle of hell during this time, but no excuses, no excuses.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:34:35)
We should not have created the void. We should have done a better job in providing information. We should have done a better job of knocking down the disinformation. You’d never knock down all these conspiracy theories, the political conspiracy theories, because they generate 10 a day, but we should have done a better job of providing as much information as we could as quickly as we could and we should have done a better job on that, yes, and no excuses. I accept responsibility for that. I am in charge. I take responsibility. We should have provided more information faster. We were too focused on doing the job and addressing the crisis of the moment and we did not do a good enough job in providing information. I take total responsibility for that. The pain in it is it created confusion and cynicism and pain for the families of the loved ones.
You see, it's all a problem of communications, and all his bureaucrats were working "so hard" and supposedly under duress. Sorry 'bout that, pudknockers — Cuomo (or rather, now it's his staff) had bigger things to do than explain to you why your grandmother was dying alone in a nursing home even though you were barred from visiting her in order to keep the place "safe." But rest assured: he's taking full responsibility and is in charge.
This loathsome garbage, because the problem wasn't communications, a public relations management problem as he'd like you to think; it was the policy itself, the March 25 memo commanding nursing homes to take in COVID patients returning from hospital and forbidding them, under penalty of law non-discrimination clauses, from so much as testing them. Splitting the numbers to make them both look smaller was a cover-up move for a very, very, very bad policy, one that's so bad that it's now being investigated by the FBI and the Brooklyn district's U.S. attorney. According to the Times-Union, which makes every effort to make Cuomo look good:
Nearly three weeks after the governor's task force was announced last year, the state health department issued an order directing nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that they must accept residents who were being discharged from hospitals even if they were still testing positive for the infectious disease, as long as they were able to care for them properly.
That directive, which was rescinded less than two months later, has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism directed at Cuomo's administration, including allegations that the order — which the governor said was based on federal guidance — had contributed to the high number of fatalities of nursing home residents in New York. That assertion was largely dismissed in a report by the Department of Health that was released in July.
Last month, the office of Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report that concluded the practice may have increased the risk of COVID-19 infections at the congregate facilities and that Cuomo's administration had delayed reporting that thousands of additional nursing home residents died at hospitals after being infected in their residential facilities.
The "as long as they were able to care for" claim is nonsense — nursing homes were threatened with license yankings if they weren't "able to care for" the patients, and the Times-Union left off that unpleasant little detail about nursing homes being prohibited under penalty of law from testing anyone returning from a hospital COVID unit into a nursing home on discrimination grounds. That effectively forced nursing homes, under protest, to take in the coughing and sneezing COVID patients from hospitals, and every time they tried to call Cuomo's bureaucrats about it to alert them to the catastrophe, the latter refused to pick up the phone. All of that was reported by the New York Post last spring.
All this, while President Trump's record-time dispatched military hospital ships, intended for COVID overflow patients in New York, sat empty. Maybe that was to avoid giving President Trump any credit for saving the thousands of people who would have been saved. For Cuomo, they were more politically useful dead, serving as fodder to Blame Trump instead.
Yes, an FBI and U.S. attorney's investigation is warranted in this case, because far from this being a communications or transparency problem, it might just be a money and greed problem. According to the Times-Union:
Republicans at all levels of New York's government spectrum, and many Democrats as well, have repeatedly called for independent investigations of the state's nursing home policies and directives during the ongoing pandemic. Some of those critics also have raised questions about whether there were any ties between policy decisions and hospitals or other special interests that either have business before the state or are subject to its regulating agencies.
So instead of being more transparent now, as Cuomo is apparently claiming to be, he needs to be way more transparent, with the lawmen. Yet the public has a right to know what went into this bad policy.
Was it to Get Trump?
Was it to "cull" the nursing home population, the better to save on Medicaid expenses the state would have to pay? According to ProPublica, about 13% of the New York nursing home population was picked off.
Or was it greed and graft among Cuomo's staff, which wouldn't be the first time among that bunch, with special interests offering "incentives" to get the patients into the nursing homes in return for some kind of emolument? Maybe the release of some emails and memos as to their thinking in the crafting of this bad decision might be in order, and hopefully, the FBI will be able to get their hands on it.
For Cuomo, it doesn't look good. After a big media buildup claiming he was such a competent, extraordinary guy, complete with an Emmy award, he may just be going down, shamelessness and all. He's certainly acting like it. Over the weekend, he reportedly threatened to "destroy" one Democratic legislator, Assembly member Ron Kim, whose questioning of this Cuomo policy arose after his father died in one of these nursing homes as a result of this policy. According to CNN, Cuomo last week was screaming at Kim over the phone to demand that he stop.
He's constantly fighting with the left wing of the Democratic Party, which is why he's billed as Mr. Moderate in much of the press. A lot of them want his job, reportedly including state attorney general, Letitia James, who wrote the report about the cover-up. What's more, a massive amount of stimulus money, if Joe Biden gets his way, is going to be rolling into New York for either Cuomo or whoever can knock him out — much more money than New York even requested. Cuomo himself has plenty of enemies likely to want that and to want him gone. Cuomo's mean and Mafia-like to his associates, "born for social distancing," as the New Yorker quoted a former aide as saying. Without Trump in the picture, the vipers are going after each other and expecting a jackpot.
And with Cuomo acting as menacing as a Mafia don, it looks as though the minions around him are plotting a political rubout.
Image: Screen shot from shareable Today show video via YouTube.