New York governor Andrew Cuomo defended an executive order that may have exacerbated coronavirus outbreaks in state nursing homes as “smart” from a “medical point of view,” during a press conference on Wednesday.
“The Republicans politicized a health order that was put out by the state on March 25 , which was, from a medical point of view, smart,” Cuomo told reporters. “They wanted to blame nursing home deaths on that order.”
The order in question, signed by the governor and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, ordered state nursing homes to readmit patients who tested positive for coronavirus. The order may have caused from several hundred to over a thousand additional deaths at upstate nursing homes, according to a statistical analysis by the Empire Center, an Albany-based think tank.
Cuomo said Republicans have continued to “politicize” the order “because they don’t want to accept responsibility” for coronavirus-related failures at the federal level.
“Once again, Andrew Cuomo came out swinging today claiming the nursing home scandal is republican-driven politics,” New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, a progressive Democrat, wrote on Twitter after the press conference. “No, this is about people vs profits….It’s about Cuomo’s abuse of power to monetize a crisis.”
Cuomo’s comments come a week following revelations that aides to the governor prevented the state heath department from revealing the true coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, in a report by the New York Times. Those efforts came while Cuomo was pitching and writing a book on his leadership during the pandemic, for which he reportedly received a $4 million advance.