Former NY Gov. Cuomo blames lethal COVID-19 nursing home order on “unknown staffer” during Congressional testimony
06/16/2024 // Ava Grace // Views

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims that an "unknown staffer" is to blame for the lethal order requiring nursing homes in the Empire State to accept residents discharged from hospitals, even if they were still infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, told reporters about this revelation in a June 11 press conference that followed Cuomo's testimony. According to her, the former governor denied he was responsible for this lethal nursing home order when he testified before members of Congress.

"[Cuomo did] tell us that he did not know that this directive existed, that he did not authorize it, [and] that his [New York State Department of Health] (NYSDOH) commissioner did not authorize it. Somehow, it just popped up from an unknown staff member," said Malliotakis.

"The governor finds out about this directive that kills thousands of seniors a month later. And he did not do an internal investigation to find out who this lowly staff member, who's still unknown, who that person was? That to me is unconscionable."

According to the NYSDOH's March 25, 2020 directive, "no resident shall be denied readmission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19." Nursing homes were also barred from requiring COVID-19 testing if hospital staff determined the residents were medically stable before discharging them. Cuomo said at the time that erring nursing home operators could lose their licenses or face heavy fines.

The directive led to the death of more than 15,000 nursing home residents in New York. The numbers were adjusted upward after Cuomo's departure as governor, in light of several state agencies finding the Cuomo administration undercounted nursing home deaths. The governor partially reversed the order in May 2021, but kept other elements in place for additional months. (Related: Report finds NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo concealed nursing home deaths for at least 5 months.)

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Anyone but him: Cuomo blames various entities for the directive

Cuomo previously blamed health care workers and family members of residents for bringing COVID-19 into nursing homes. He has also pointed his fingers at the Trump administration, pointing to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that said nursing homes can accept patients with COVID-19.

Then-CMS Administrator Seema Verma responded to Cuomo's accusations. While her agency's guidance did say nursing homes can accept COVID-positive patients, she clarified that they can only do so if they could follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The public health agency strongly recommended that nursing homes dedicate a specific wing to patients moving to or arriving from a hospital. Verma added in a statement that if nursing home operators couldn't follow the guidance, then the transfer "must wait until the patient is no longer subject to COVID-19 precautions, or the resident can be transferred to another facility that can provide the care."

Cuomo's June 11 appearance before the House COVID-19 Select Subcommittee was in compliance with a subpoena. He told reporters prior to the hearing that "the investigations say New York followed the federal guidance. Cuomo also remarked that while the Empire State did well during the pandemic, "the federal government failed this nation."

The former governor reportedly told lawmakers that if nursing home operators couldn't care for residents, "they should have rejected them." But Malliotakis remarked: "It doesn't say that anywhere in the directive that you had that opportunity to reject someone if you could not care for them.

New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, Malliotakis' GOP colleague, said she spoke with nursing home operators – who told her "there was no way out" of the directive. She continued: "They were threatened. They were intimidated … if they did not take these nursing home patients."

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Watch this clip from Fox News about former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemingly pivoting the blame for his administration's COVID-19 policies.

This video is from the NewsClips channel on

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