By Nick Reisman City of Albany
PUBLISHED 1:01 PM ET Jun. 23, 2020 PUBLISHED 1:01 PM EDT Jun. 23, 2020
COVID-positive staff unknowingly spread the coronavirus at nursing homes in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a TV interview on Tuesday as he continues to face scrutiny for the state’s handling of the virus in long term care facilities and nursing homes.
The virus has led to more than 6,000 confirmed or presumed deaths in nursing homes in New York. Republicans in Congress as well as Democrats at the state level are considering investigations and hearings on the issue.
Cuomo, speaking on MSNBC’s Mornng Joe, pointed to staff who carried the virus into work at nursing homes.
“What all the data says is the reason you had infections in the nursing homes was because the staff brought in the infection,” Cuomo said. “And you look at the communities that had the high infection rate overall, those were communities that had nursing homes with the high infection rate.”
He added, “It is that the staff got infected, they came to work, and they brought in the infection.”
Cuomo has come under fire for a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from turning away COVID positive patients. He has blamed the policy on the federal government and, in May, barred hospitals from discharging COVID patients to nursing homes.
New York health officials also allowed asymptomatic, but COVID-positive staff to continue working in nursing homes with COVID positive residents. The state reversed that policy on April 29 hours after the policy was first reported.
That policy is a federal CDC guideline which that has agency has kept in place.
Cuomo on Tuesday pointed to the ramped up testing of nursing home staff which initially grew to twice a week and then reduced to once week. Nursing home officials have said the situation in the facilities has stabilized in recent weeks.
“How do you fix that in the future?” Cuomo said. “I don’t know if you can. All you need is one person, an air conditioning repair man, a delivery person and if a virus gets in that nursing home it’s fire through dry grass.”