‘To me this comes down to, the seniors in our lives, what they have given us, what they mean to us, and what we owe to them…’
(Liberty Headlines) Days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the deaths of elderly residents and downplayed his decision to force nursing homes to take those who tested positive for coronavirus, the fallout of the Democratic leader’s response continued to plague the Big Apple.
But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent Cuomo rival, rose to the occasion by using the governor’s callous remarks from last Sunday as an opening to right the wrongs of the state’s flawed policy and engage in a bit of intra-party upmanship.
New York City, considered the epicenter of the US health crisis, will offer free coronavirus tests at the city’s 169 nursing homes and will provide staff to replace nursing home employees who test positive for the virus, de Blasio said Wednesday.
“To me this comes down to, the seniors in our lives, what they have given us, what they mean to us, and what we owe to them, what we owe to them in terms of making sure they are healthy, making sure they are safe, always being there for them,” de Blasio said.
The announcement comes after some 3,000 residents of nursing homes in the city have died of COVID-19, including those confirmed whose diagnoses were by lab tests and those for whom COVID-19 was the presumed cause based on symptoms.
Cuomo issued a March 26 order forcing the facilities to accept patients who had tested positive for the virus, which severely risked further exposure among the remaining residents as few preventative measures were taken to limit their intermingling.
Last week, Cuomo reversed the policy. He also ordered twice-weekly testing for all staffers at nursing homes and other adult care facilities, but that order doesn’t apply to residents.
Nonetheless, the governor, who had been lionized by leftist media for his exploits in leadership during the pandemic, tried clumsily to justify the controversial decision by minimizing the losses.
“Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus,” he said during a Sunday press conference. “That is going to happen despite whatever you do. Because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive.”
De Blasio noted on Wednesday that the state is in charge of regulating nursing homes, but he said the city would start a “two-week blitz” to provide up to 3,000 tests a day to residents and employees at the facilities.
He said the city already has sent 240 fill-in staff members to replace nursing home employees who tested positive for the virus and must stay home for two weeks. The city will fulfill additional staffing requests by the end of next week, he said.
Additionally, 10 “outbreak response teams” will be available to assist nursing homes and adult care facilities that are experiencing coronavirus flareups, de Blasio said.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press