May 26, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Queens Council Member Eric Ulrich has called for an investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ulrich, who represents a district in southern Queens, says Cuomo’s ill-judged nursing home mandates contributed to the alarmingly high number of deaths at those facilities.
The councilman penned a May 22 letter to Speaker Corey Johnson and Committee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Ritchie Torres calling for a city council investigation.
Cuomo, according to Ulrich, has resisted calls for a state investigation into the matter and the city should instead start its own probe.
The issue largely stems from Cuomo’s March 25 directive that required nursing home operators to re-admit recovering COVID-19 residents back to their facilities. Many critics argue that these sick patients infected the other residents.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo failed New Yorkers early on with his senseless plan to place patients back in nursing homes, even after they tested positive for coronavirus,” Ulrich wrote.
“It was a deadly decision. Regrettably, the virus spread like wildfire,” he said.
Cuomo has been under fire for the directive which critics argue added to the number of fatalities at nursing homes.
More than 5,800 New York seniors have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes or other long term care facilities across the state since the outbreak began, according to Ulrich.
Cuomo has maintained that he was following federal guidelines from the CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when he made the March 25 directive.
The governor revised the policy on May 10 and now requires nursing home residents to test negative before they are allowed back into their facility.
Nonetheless, Ulrich said that the governor must be held accountable for his early actions and the city must get to the bottom of the nursing home mandates.
“Every family member and loved one of a nursing home victim deserves to know the facts,” Ulrich wrote. “We must leave no stone unturned.”
The Health Department has not released figures on how many recovering COVID-19 patients were readmitted into nursing homes but a recent report by the Associated Press put the number at 4,500 people across the state.
Ulrich also blasted the governor’s appearance on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time recently as “equally disgraceful.”
“Instead of talking about how and why he made these decisions, Governor Cuomo and his brother joked about the size of his nose,” Ulrich wrote.
“It was a news segment so unserious that you have to wonder if they were accidentally reading a script from Saturday Night Live.”