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Dr. Howard Zucker, left, commissioner of the new York State department of Health, listens to Gov. Andrew Cuomo talk about the state's preparedness because that the spread out of coronavirus during a news conference, Monday, in march 2, 2020 in brand-new York.Mark Lennihan | AP Photo


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elafilador.net, N.Y. – to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s critics tell it, march 25 is a date that will live in infamy.

You are watching: Cuomo sent coronavirus to nursing homes

On the date, Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, sent out a memo directing nursing homes to help free up hospital beds by acquisition Covid-19 patients into their facilities.

Now countless of Cuomo’s detractors speak the directive to be the factor for new York’s nation-leading tragedy of more than 15,000 nursing home deaths indigenous the coronavirus.


Cuomo’s policy was ill-advised, some professionals say. And also there are still plenty of questions around how the health and wellness department oversaw nursing homes throughout the pandemic.


But the simple notion the by sending Covid-19 patients to nursing homes Cuomo flooded them with virus and caused countless unnecessary deaths does not hold up.


The proof thus far indicates that the march 25 memo had actually a minor impact on nursing house deaths. And even that is difficult to pen down.


The coronavirus to be mainly brought into nursing dwellings by employees, many of who never occurred symptoms, said David Grabowski, a health treatment policy professor in ~ Harvard medical School.


“Although the mandate to be unfortunate, I do not think it was the major driver in nursing home fatalities in the state,’' Grabowski claimed in an email.


“Governor Cuomo’s disastrous March stimulate knowingly sent out Covid-positive patients right into nursing homes, which caused the deaths of hundreds of the state’s parents and grandparents,’' claimed U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who is considering a operation for governor.


In a Feb. 18 conference contact with reporters, Reed blamed “Cuomo’s death order” for every nursing house fatality in the state.


“Fifteen thousands of our occupants of brand-new York were killed as a an outcome of the Covid-19 order ago in March,’' the said.


Cuomo brought some of this hyperbole ~ above himself. The in march 25 directive to nursing homes was yielded in his common top-down, heavy-handed style. And for month his administration refused to provide realistic fatality data for nursing homes, sparking outrage and also making it impossible to evaluate the policy in genuine time.


But the reality that Cuomo underreported hundreds of nursing residence deaths has actually too frequently blended with an unsupported assumption that his controversial march 25 directive caused those deaths.


Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim, because that example, claimed Cuomo’s order caused “the spread out of the condition among brand-new York’s most delicate population. And also then, come cover his tracks, the branch may have actually obstructed justice.”


Most proof indicates the march 25 directive played a minor role in dispersing the disease. Also The Empire center for public Policy, among Cuomo’s chief doubters on the issue, said the March policy “was no the single or primary cause of the heavy death toll in parenting homes.’'


Cuomo is in trouble, including over recent accusations of sex-related harassment. His multiple crises have attracted nationwide attention. Amid the furor, it might be too straightforward to gloss over exactly how much we still nothing know about the governor’s alleged “death order.”


On march 25, challenged with a potentially destructive shortage that hospital beds, Zucker directed nursing houses to assist by admitting medically stable hospital patients who had Covid-19.


The plan was reversed might 10. After that, hospital patients had to test an adverse for coronavirus prior to they might be admitted to nursing homes.


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Dr. Howard Zucker, state wellness commissioner, foreground left, and also Gov. Andrew Cuomo speak during coronavirus briefing march 4 at the State Capitol in Albany.(Mike Groll/Office that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)


In the six weeks prior to the guidance changed, nursing dwellings took in more than 6,300 Covid-positive patients who had actually not previously been in their facilities. An additional 2,700 citizens who initially acquired sick in nursing houses were returned to those infrastructure after gift treated for Covid-19 in ~ a hospital.


But the coronavirus had an ext of a head begin than anyone knew at the time. That was currently spreading through many of the nursing residences in the hardest-hit areas.


The the strongest indication the Cuomo’s plan may have increased the fatality toll in nursing homes comes from the realm Center, the conservative think tank.


In an evaluation of minimal data top top hospital discharges, the Empire facility said nursing homes that embraced Covid hospital patients were more likely, on average, to have actually Covid deaths.


Statistically, their calculations shown that “several hundred” come “possibly more than 1,000” deaths could be attributed to hospital discharges spurred by the march 25 memo. Or they could not.


“It’s essential to be cautious around reading also much right into it,’' claimed Bill Hammond, an elderly fellow for health policy in ~ the realm Center. “First that all, correlation does no equal causation. There room confounding factors that can be clouding the situation.’'


Here is one crucial caveat: In the brand-new York City area, wherein the vast bulk of hospital discharges and also nursing home deaths occurred, the data verified no connection between the two, the Empire center concluded.


Downstate locations — brand-new York City, long Island and the lower Hudson valley — accounted for 95% the the hospital patients sent to nursing dwellings while the march 25 guidance remained in effect, Hammond said. Those locations accounted for 82% the the nursing residence deaths during the period.


Hammond speculated that the coronavirus was already spreading therefore rampantly Downstate the admitting hospital patients to nursing homes made no difference.


Of the 310 nursing dwellings that embraced hospital patients under the in march 25 guidance, 304 of lock – 98% — said state officials in a survey they already had evidenced or suspected situations of Covid-19 prior to hospital patients were admitted, follow to the health and wellness department.


At the time, the virus was particularly widespread in Downstate parenting homes, claimed James Clyne, president of LeadingAge brand-new York, a group that represents non-profit nursing homes.


“They all had Covid in their buildings,’' Clyne said. “Spread of the was no from discharged hospital residents. It simply wasn’t.”


In Upstate areas not however saturated v the virus, sending Covid-19 patients to nursing homes may have increased transmission of the virus, Hammond said.


John Bacheller, a blogger and also retired state policy analyst, reviewed the Empire facility data and came to comparable conclusions: The march 25 guidance had actually no result on Downstate deaths.


Bacheller’s testimonial of the data produced a smaller estimate that the Upstate impact: The state’s policy contributed to between 27 and also 165 the the 966 deaths of Upstate nursing house residents, that estimated.


But that’s only fifty percent the picture, the said. It’s difficult to calculation the positive effect of the policy in hospitals.


“Although world probably did dice in education homes since of this, you nothing know how many human being would have actually died because they couldn’t acquire into hospitals,” Bacheller said.


It was not until late autumn – lengthy after the in march 25 memo was moot – the nursing dwellings in central New York and other Upstate area suffered many of their fatalities. As the virus spread through communities, nursing dwellings suffered catastrophic losses.


The potential for the coronavirus come overwhelm hospitals to be real. In early March, the federal company that regulates nursing residences said they need to be component of the solution.


The Centers because that Medicare and also Medicaid services issued guidance march 13 saying nursing homes could accept Covid-19 patient from hospitals if the nursing homes were equipped to properly care for them.


Zucker’s march 25 memo stated the case much more urgently and also left out any type of reference to conditioning the move on even if it is the nursing residence was adequately prepared. In addition, Cuomo signed legislation around that time giving health-care infrastructure immunity native lawsuits pertained to Covid-19, further encouraging them to take patients.


That combination made some queasy. It appeared to open up the door for nursing homes to admit patients without enough concern for safety.


New York’s policy was a mistake, but one common by several states, said Grabowski, the Harvard clinical School expert. The march 25 memo additionally was regular with guidance from the federal Centers for an illness Control at the time, he said.


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In elafilador.net’s deadliest nursing home, an overwhelmed staff could not put out the Covid fire

Iroquois nursing residence didn't have a single case the Covid-19 until November. Since then, dozens of occupants have died from the virus.


The march 25 mandate erred since while specific nursing dwellings had the volume to care for Covid patient safely, “many go not,’' Grabowski said.


The memo “basically driven the problem from overcrowded hospitals to under-resourced education homes,’' the said.


New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan adopted comparable policies. Other states drafted propose like brand-new York’s yet softened lock after pushback. In many states, the push-and-pull in between hospitals and nursing dwellings caused friction.


“In the early part of the pandemic, i am not specific I would suggest any kind of of the claims did a an excellent job,’' Grabowski said.


A better solution would have actually been to create standalone, committed facilities where Covid-19 patients can recuperate ~ leaving the hospital, Grabowski said.


Assembly decimal Leader will certainly Barclay, R-Pulaski, echoed the sentiments of numerous critics who wondered about sending Covid patient to nursing residences where they could infect others.


How, that said, could that no make points worse? after ~ all, it to be Cuomo who stated the virus might sweep v nursing residences like “fire with dry grass.”


“If you’re placing Covid-infected patients right into a nursing house … certainly that’s not going to assist the situation,’' Barclay said. “And I would suspect the it renders it worse. Ns think that’s why there’s so lot controversy approximately this. That’s not hard to think the that’s walk to be the case, right?”


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New York State Attorney basic Letitia James approve a report Jan. 28 criticizing the health and wellness department because that under-reporting deaths indigenous nursing homes.AP


Hammond claimed the realm Center’s examine was predicated ~ above the exact same idea. Also if hospital patients didn’t introduce the virus when they moved to education homes, they included to the load.


“It’s simply true the it’s more tough to manage 10 infected patients 보다 it is to handle three,’' Hammond said. “So the more you have, the higher the risk.”


How lot the admission of hospital patients included to virus transmission in nursing dwellings is impossible to know without much more detailed analysis, Grabowski said. Most instances were spread by staff, but a smaller sized share most likely stemmed from hospital patients, and those likely brought about some deaths, that said.


Other factors, including staff turnover and nursing home staffing levels, additionally were critically important.


In her Jan. 28 report top top nursing house deaths, state Attorney basic Letitia James said the march 25 policy “may have put citizens at enhanced risk of harm in some facilities.’' yet James’s investigation showed the nursing home staffing play a an ext predictable role.


The AG discovered many problems in ~ nursing dwellings that enhanced the danger to residents, consisting of a absence of an individual protective equipment, inadequate testing and also poor compliance through infection regulate rules.


Most of the troubles were exacerbated by low staffing levels. Nursing residences with smaller staff-to-resident ratios continuously had much more Covid deaths, James reported.


(Update: The Empire center today approve a report that questioned the AG’s result on staffing levels. Utilizing the an ext complete fatality data recently released through the state, The Empire facility found no clean correlation in between staffing levels and also deaths.)


Eight nursing residences in Onondaga County had residents die of Covid-19 when the march 25 order remained in effect. Just two took in Covid-19 patients from hospitals that had not formerly lived at your facilities.


That says that the virus was already spreading with at the very least some regional nursing homes without assist from hospital discharges.


Loretto Health and also Rehabilitation Center, the biggest nursing house in elafilador.net v 583 beds, embraced 20 new residents from hospitals, state documents show.


Loretto likewise readmitted one residents who had gone to the hospital after contracting Covid-19 at the parenting home.


Bishop Rehabilitation and also Nursing Center, which has actually 440 beds, absorbed eight brand-new Covid-positive patients from hospitals, state records show. Bishop likewise readmitted 10 citizens who had gone come the hospital and recovered.


(Two other regional homes, main Park and Van Duyn, readmitted inhabitants who returned after being treated for Covid-19 in ~ hospitals.)


During the period following the march 25 order, and for 25 job after it ended, there to be 115 Covid-19 deaths involving inhabitants at eight Onondaga county nursing homes. Castle accounted for 77% of all county deaths throughout the period.


Both nursing dwellings had established separate devices in their buildings where Covid-19 patients were isolated through negative-pressure ventilation to stop the virus native spreading.


Loretto staffed its coronavirus unit with employees who did not work elsewhere in the facility, said Julie Sheedy, a Loretto official.


Thanks come the precautions, Sheedy said, she go not think the hospital transfers spread out the virus in ~ Loretto.


“We were currently well-prepared and had an setting to care for our inhabitants safely, so us did not view a far-ranging spread in our facility,’' she said.


Bishop had 42 deaths, the most among the eight facilities. But Bishop also actively worked through hospitals to recognize Covid-19 patients at its isolation unit, follow to previous news reporting.


Many of the patients transferred to Bishop to be not supposed to survive, make the facility something of a Covid hospice. That may partially describe its high death count.


In that reports to federal regulators, Bishop reported taking in 40 hospital patients together of might 24. It’s not clear why that number is much more than double what state documents show. Facility officials decreased to comment because that this report.


“We are in the business of patient care, not politics, and also therefore have actually no talk about this,” stated Dawn Harsch, a agency spokesperson.


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The real Covid death toll in ~ nursing homes, and also the staggering heartache in NY (exclusive)

elafilador.net examination finds as much as 50% an ext coronavirus deaths amongst nursing home residents 보다 the state reports.


Two out of every three nursing house deaths in the county arisen after the state changed its policy and required hospital patients to test negative for Covid-19 prior to going to a education home.


Those deaths occurred even though, because early May, the state has compelled frequent trial and error of nursing residence workers.


In December, when a surge of Covid-19 hit main New York, Loretto converted an entire building to a Covid-only facility to relieve push on local hospital capacity. It’s among 19 such framework in the state. Much more than 230 patients have actually been treated there, Sheedy said.


The march 25 memo to be issued throughout a chaotic, scary time together the pandemic was killing hundreds of world a work in new York. Cuomo and also Zucker concentrated on the potential the hospitals might quickly run out of space to law the most serious cases.


“During this global health emergency, all NHs (nursing homes) should comply v the emergency receipt of inhabitants returning indigenous hospitals come NHs,’' the march 25 memo said.


“No resident chandelier be denied re-admission or join to the NH solely based on a evidenced or doubt diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs room prohibited indigenous requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically secure to it is in tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.’'


On may 10, the policy was abruptly reversed. Suddenly, no hospital patient v Covid-19 might be discharged come a nursing home without an initial testing negative.


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The Fahey structure at Loretto (foreground) was converted in December 2020 to a Covid-only facility to take patients from hospitals.Brian Phillips


The top-down governing layout of the Cuomo management is at the very least partly come blame for the extreme blowback his plan is taking.


The march 25 memo took nursing houses by surprise, claimed Christopher Laxton, executive, management director of a national organization representing nursing residence physicians. Laxton and other doubters say brand-new York public representative should have actually sought input native nursing homes prior to issuing the directive.


Instead, Laxton’s group, AMDA-The society for Post-Acute and Long-Term-Care Medicine, struck the directive after it come out, saying it to be “not in the least regular with patient safety principles.’'


The wellness department put out the march 25 memo at a time once it to be still struggling to get a grasp on how numerous residents were dying in parenting homes.


Nursing house deaths peaked April 8, follow to a wellness department report in July. Yet it wasn’t till a week later that the wellness department request nursing houses to start reporting day-to-day how numerous residents passed away of Covid-19 in their facilities.


“The march 25 directive was since the branch was concentrated on hospitals and frankly didn’t give a crap around nursing homes,’' claimed Richard Mollot, executive, management director that the lengthy Term care Community Coalition, which supporters for nursing home residents.


Mollot’s group did not support the policy. And Cuomo’s resistance come providing finish fatality data showed his ongoing neglect for education homes, he said.


“It’s hard to say,’' Mollot said. ’'I don’t think it to be a great idea, but it’s tough to say.’'


State officials have repeatedly claimed the march 25 directive walk not force nursing residences to expropriate Covid-19 patients. Under currently state law, it was incumbent top top nursing homes to refuse Covid patients from hospitals if castle were no equipped to treatment for lock safely, they say.


“The reality is, the nursing residences took the order together a mandate, and also they began accepting patients,’' the said.


After the state health department take it flak end the march 25 policy, it developed a report in July exonerating itself.


Among various other things, the department’s report said most Covid patients discharged from hospitals to be no longer infectious, based on the average length of hospital stays. The department also said that the peak variety of nursing house deaths preceded the peak variety of patients admitted from hospitals.


That in-house report met with skepticism. Some states hit hard by nursing house deaths, including Connecticut and new Jersey, hired external consultants to evaluation their actions.


In the end, it was the Cuomo team unwillingness come answer longstanding needs for fatality data that brought about the biggest outrage. When the number were finally forced out, involves over the march 25 memo escalated and also went national.


If the leads to an investigation of nursing house deaths and also how to prevent them, it might yield confident results, say supporters for residents.


But several supporters said the possibility will be lost if the focus remains solely on the march 25 memo.


“I hope that perhaps we have the right to channel few of this energy around the Cuomo scandal into finally improving points for residents,’' claimed Nina Kohn, a elafilador.net University legislation professor who specializes in the civil legal rights of larger adults. “But us can’t let all of our emphasis be about who to blame because that what. Us really have to be thinking about how perform we settle the suffering.”


Do you have a news guideline or a story idea? call reporter Tim Knauss the elafilador.net/The Post-Standard: email | Twitter | | 315-470-3023


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