UH, NORTHEASTERN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS MOSTLY? Who sent coronavirus-positive patients into nursing homes?
The great influenza of 1918-19, for example, tended to kill otherwise healthy people in the prime of life, ages 20 to 40. The COVID-19 virus tends to kill people age 70 and above, especially those with comorbidities.
Yet, even though that was apparent early on, America’s governors have done a poor job of protecting those most at risk — residents of nursing homes, elderly people with physical frailties and, often, cognitive impairment.
The result: One-third of reported coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to the New York Times’s reporting, are of nursing home residents or workers. And nursing homes accounted for a majority of deaths in heavily hit states, such as New Jersey (52%), Massachusetts (59%), Pennsylvania (66%), and Connecticut (55%), and for 80% of deaths in otherwise lightly hit Minnesota.
That percentage is much lower (20%) in America’s COVID-19 epicenter, New York, but the Empire State still leads the nation with 5,403 nursing home deaths — about 1 out of every 14 COVID-19 deaths in the entire country.
Why so many? On March 25, the state health commissioner ordered nursing homes to accept patients with the virus. It’s unclear why he made this fatal decision. Maybe he wanted to keep hospital beds available. Or maybe he feared that sick people would be dumped onto the street.
When asked about this policy in late April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo professed ignorance. Two weeks later, on Saturday, after 46 days in effect, he reversed it.
New York wasn’t the only state that insisted on placing infected patients in nursing homes. New Jersey’s policy was similar, explicitly barring homes from requiring testing before admitting patients. California had the same policy but dropped it after 10 days.
Other states, recognizing the dangers of infecting the vulnerable, required or encouraged nursing homes to set up separate units or staffs to handle patients testing positive. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely criticized in the national media for avoiding a total lockdown, zeroed in on nursing homes, encouraging repeated testing and temperature-taking of residents and staff and isolating anyone testing positive. Florida, a state with 2 million more people than New York, had just 714 nursing home deaths, 13% of the number in New York.
This will not be widely emphasized by the press.
ROGER KIMBALL: Andrew Cuomo’s COVID Carnage.
We have a veritable litany of failure, much of it deadly. Cuomo began by downplaying the seriousness of the virus and boasting that New York, being ‘fully coordinated’ and ‘fully mobilized’, was going to handle it much better than many places. That was on March 2. Fast forward two months and New York leads the country in coronavirus deaths, accounting for a third or more of the nationwide total. At some point the governor began to panic, shouting that New York would need 140,000 beds (it needed 18,500 at the peak) and 30,000 ventilators. Soon I expect to see them littering antique stores repurposed as planters.
What made Cuomo’s handling of the situation so bad? Critics point to a host of policies. Waiting until just a couple of weeks ago to pay serious attention to cleaning the subway system was one failure. But the real doozy was forcing nursing homes to take patients infected with the virus. What part of the population is by far the most vulnerable to the virus? The elderly. Who occupies nursing homes? The elderly. Cuomo might as well have sent in a SWAT squad and ordered it to start firing. Not only did he require nursing homes to take infected patients, he made it against the law even to ask if new patients were infected. Thousands died.
Sunday, Cuomo finally admitted, sort of, his mistake, but the damage had been done.
What about the second question? How is it that Cuomo has not only survived but thrived politically? Is he getting help from China? I ask because not only has he praised China’s brutal handling of the disease, he has also taken to referring to it as a ‘European virus‘.
Memo to the governor: Wuhan is not in Europe.
It’s easy to tell who’s on the payroll, or at least on the team.
Plus: “The wretched Atlantic magazine recently described Georgia’s decision to start reopening the state as an experiment in ‘human sacrifice’. That is the current meme of the left. ‘Reopening the country is dangerous!’, they say. But in fact, all the states that have begun to reopen have so far fared better than New York, which really is the epicenter of the disease.”