Near the end of his news conference Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked a question about nursing homes. As part of his answer, he described the devilish dangers they face from the coronavirus outbreak because of their vulnerable sick and elderly residents.
“What’s really happened in nursing homes is what we’ve feared from the get-go,” Cuomo said. He called them “ground zero” for the virus and added:
“It just takes one [infected] person … to walk in there and then it is fire through dry grass.”
As a statement of fact, there is nothing wrong and everything right with those words. But the governor’s clear understanding of the special circumstances that nursing homes face deepens the mystery about why he allowed his Department of Health to force sick patients into those same facilities.
After all, if a single infected staff member could start a “fire through dry grass” in a facility, what could 10 or 15 or 20 infected patients do to all the vulnerable people inside a nursing home? And what havoc could thousands of those infected patients cause in hundreds of nursing homes across the state?…
The Department of Health order, dated March 25, decreed that nursing homes and rehab centers could not use a positive COVID-19 test as the sole basis for rejecting a patient being referred from hospitals. Fearing state regulators, many facility executives say they accepted the transfers even though they believed the order was a death sentence for some existing patients and staff.