Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting hit with some friendly fire for the state’s staggering nursing home death toll during the coronavirus pandemic — from his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson.
Paterson said Cuomo should admit he made a mistake with his controversial March 25 order directing nursing homes to admit or readmit recovering COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals.
“I think some of the people sent back to the nursing homes with the virus — and nursing homes weren’t equipped to quarantine them from everyone else — and I think it had some difficult consequences,” Paterson said on AM 970 The Answer Sunday with host Frank Morano.
“The governor was trying to do the right thing. One thing you learn in life but we never allow our elected officials to engage in is that you can’t get everything right,” Paterson said.
He said when questions and criticisms were first raised about the nursing home order, “He [Cuomo] seemed to be blaming the nursing homes — but he gave the order,” Paterson said.
Paterson praised Cuomo as a “great administrator” and described his overall performance during the pandemic as “superlative,” but added, “Once in a while when something goes wrong, you just stand up and say it.”
Paterson recalled as governor, he promised to send supplies to Haiti following a hurricane. But months later, the goods were discovered sitting in a Bronx warehouse — and he apologized for the goof.
“I suggest more elected officials try that — sacrifice invited compassion,” he said.
Paterson had served as Cuomo’s hand-picked state Democratic Party chairman.
Some 6,200 nursing home residents have died or are presumed to have died from coronavirus in New York state.
Cuomo has defended his nursing home policies during the pandemic, saying “we did everything we could.”
He also has shifted blame elsewhere.
He said nursing homes were “legally” and ”ethically” obligated to transfer COVID-19 patients elsewhere if they couldn’t provide adequate care — though nursing home operators complained that alternatives such as special hospitals set up at the Javits Center and the USNS Comfort ship were off limits.
He directed state Attorney General Letitia James and his state Health Department to investigate nursing homes to determine which ones were complying or violating COVID infection control rules.
But under withering pressure, Cuomo on May 10 reversed the controversial March 25 nursing home order, by saying that hospital patients must test negative for coronavirus before being discharged to nursing homes.
He also ordered regular testing of nursing home staffers to contain the virus.
Cuomo at one point tried to peg the blame on President Trump, claiming he was merely following “CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance” and said, “Don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policies.”
The Trump administration disputed the governor’s contention, saying Cuomo should get an “Oscar” for deflecting responsibility for nursing home deaths.
Asked about Paterson’s criticism, Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi responded, “Once again, Section 10 nycrr 415.26 specifically states that a nursing home shall accept and retain ONLY those residents for whom it can provide adequate care — and that standard remained in place during this pandemic. If facilities couldn’t care for patients, New York offered to help with transfers, provided access to 96,000 staffers — which 400 out of 600 homes used — and have given them more than 13 million pieces of protective equipment.”