Representative Elise Stefanik called Tuesday for an investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to order nursing homes to admit residents who tested positive for coronavirus.
“The governor took executive action forcing positive COVID cases back into nursing homes,” the New York Republican, who represents the state’s northernmost district, said during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday morning.
“There was zero transparency in terms of informing the seniors, the workers or the family members, whether there were positive cases,” Stefanik said.
Cuomo has come under fire for his policies aimed at fighting the virus in nursing homes. Critics have noted the lack of personal protective equipment for caretakers working with the elderly and have also slammed Cuomo’s state regulation requiring nursing homes to take in recovering coronavirus patients.
Earlier this month, New York announced 1,700 previously undisclosed suspected coronavirus deaths that occurred at nursing homes and adult care facilities, including people who passed away before a lab test could confirm they had contracted coronavirus. The updated total still did not include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospital before they died, obscuring the actual toll of the virus on nursing homes.
As of Tuesday, the tally stood at more than 5,760 of confirmed and presumed coronavirus deaths of residents at adult care facilities. Several nursing homes in New York City and Long Island were hit particularly hard, some reporting several dozen deaths.
“New York has mismanaged how we approached and how we protected seniors in our nursing homes. We knew going into this that our most vulnerable are our seniors,” Stefanik charged.
The congresswoman added that the demand for an investigation is a bipartisan one, saying Democrats want to see Cuomo’s administration held accountable as well.
However, any probe of the matter must be “independent,” she stressed, arguing that it should be conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services and not by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“I think it needs to come from the federal government,” Stefanik said.
State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat, echoed Stefanik’s concerns and said the New York attorney general should “appoint an outside counsel to run the review.”