COVID Mortality: New York, Nursing Homes, and Cuomo

The truth starts to come out

Here’s the latest “news”, and I can’t say I’m shocked:

Cuomo aide admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out

Governor Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned.

The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

So, rather than dive down the hole of Trump-this and Cuomo-that, I will make one central remark: if New York state had reported nursing home deaths appropriately from the beginning, the controversy of this deception would never have come up.

Of course, if they had been honest and transparent from the beginning last year, the controversy would have been about the hideous results of Cuomo’s policy of sending convalescing COVID patients back to the nursing homes they came from, ready to infect the workers and fellow residents. And then Cuomo would have had the shine come off his “COVID savior” halo.

Oh, look, something entirely lucky!

During Wednesday’s conference call, DeRosa said it appeared the DOJ was no longer focused on New York’s nursing home deaths.

I’m sure that they would have lost interest even if Trump had won, right?

Get used to this, by the way. The Biden administration doesn’t look like it’s the type to go after allies, ever.

So now, it’s just going to be private lawsuits… and it’s tough to sue the state unless it wants to be sued on that particular matter. Suing the nursing homes will also be difficult, because part of Cuomo’s “send the sick back to nursing homes” policy involved passing laws removing liability from nursing home operators, for both resident and worker harm. Now, some of that liability was rolled back, but basically the big wave of deaths from April were covered.

Some commentary

Daily Poster: Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters

No doubt, Trump’s Justice Department was as highly politicized as Cuomo advisers feared — but that is hardly a legitimate justification for hiding details of thousands of deaths. And the framing of it as some innocent, unplanned, deer-in-the-headlights slip-up is absurd, considering the context.

Cuomo’s administration hid the nursing home casualty data after his administration slipped provisions into the state budget that helped the governor’s largest health care industry donors obtain legal immunity for nursing home executives.

Well, it was Cuomo who told the nursing homes that they had to take in recovering COVID patients, if they had been residents of those nursing homes.

But the authors (David Sirota and Andrew Perez) do get into that.

COVID nursing home deaths: Andrew Cuomo is running from his part in my dad’s death

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called his and the state’s handling of the coronavirus “beautiful.” My dad being placed on a ventilator wasn’t beautiful.

…..
Knowing Cuomo respond, “Who cares?” when speaking about the thousands of seniors who died and were not properly counted wasn’t beautiful.

Nothing about the inhumane way our seniors were treated by the Cuomo administration was beautiful. It should be criminal.

Should be.

Won’t be prosecuted.

Andrew Cuomo tag at Actuarial News

How much is this news?

So, the big problem, of course, is that it has been blatantly obvious that New York state (specifically, Cuomo’s decisions) has been hiding the nursing home deaths numbers since the beginning.

Back in May 2020, the NY Post ran: Soaring nursing home coronavirus deaths don’t match official NY state tallies

It’s don’t test, don’t tell at New York nursing homes.

Deaths soared at two NYC nursing homes and two in Nassau County at the height of the coronavirus outbreak. But the official state counts show far fewer COVID-19 related fatalities.

At the 268-bed Cypress Garden Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Flushing, 76 patients died from March 1 through May 2, including 68 in April alone, according to internal documents seen by The Post.

The state tally is just seven deaths.

Anyone who looked at the data could tell New York was an anomaly:

…oh, but that was early on, and they were focusing on responding to the emergency, not data-collecting and….

Oh, yeah. They always lied about the numbers. From the beginning. When no other states were reporting the data that way.

New York was surrounded by states with realistic-sounding results on nursing home COVID deaths, and a “mysteriously” low amount for New York, the state among the hardest-hit in COVID in the first wave, if not for all of 2020.

Cuomo lied, people died

I waited for over two months to post about nursing home deaths in New York, and I noted at the time:

This is such an incredibly stupid lie [that Cuomo “had” to send sick patients back to nursing homes]. There are other ways he could’ve covered the problem: that COVID was widespread, and we didn’t know how bad it was, yadda yadda.

Don’t tell a lie about something that is very well documented.
…..
It’s a stupid lie. And it’s just the start of lies with NY nursing home deaths.

The problem with nursing home COVID mortality is that New York is hiding its stats. They’ve been counting nursing home/assisted-care homes COVID deaths as hospital deaths if the resident managed to get to the hospital and died there. Obviously, most of the nursing home COVID cases end up at the hospital, if it’s really that bad.

I am very angry about all of this. That’s why I haven’t actually been posting about it that much.

If you think I have been annoyed by lack of attention to detail in COVID data, I am absolutely livid over the falsification of very key data, especially since it has been blatant since April 2020.

It is difficult to be appropriately analytical when one has such an emotional reaction to the messing about with data. I’ve had this happen at my prior employer, when I realized my numbers were being messed with, and yes, falsifying data is one of the things that will make me blow my top.

via GIPHY

Blaming Medicaid costs

One of my biggest suspicions is that Cuomo’s sending of sick people back to nursing homes was to cut down on Medicaid costs in New York:

To be nasty about it, a large amount of Medicaid funds are spent on nursing homes. By count, Medicaid covers more than 60% of nursing home residents. It costs nothing in Medicaid funds if said nursing home residents die.

People were asking me how much COVID deaths would improve funding ratios for public pensions (my quick answer: the mortality is really not high enough. Yet.)

But they didn’t ask how much Medicaid costs would be lessened by these deaths. That’s not really my area, to be sure, but it will be interesting to see the results coming out of this. New York has very high Medicaid costs, and my very cynical mind goes to that is why Cuomo forced nursing homes to take positive COVID patients. By the time Cuomo forced nursing homes to take COVID positive folks, there had been plenty of experience in Europe to show that was a bad idea… unless your goal was to kill off a bunch of old people who are expensive to keep alive.

I mean, at least that would be somewhat rational (if a bit callous), as opposed to deciding on a policy that got extra people killed even though there was capacity due to resources sent to New York City that were barely used.

After a nearly-month-long mission helping New York in the COVID-19 pandemic fight, hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) will leave its temporary berth – likely for its Virginia homeport – and prepare for a possible assignment elsewhere.

Medical teams aboard Comfort, which last month quickly activated and deployed from Norfolk, Va., treated a total of 182 patients over a three-and-a-half week period in support of the domestic coronavirus mission intended to ease pressures on local hospitals. That was far fewer than public assumptions and expectations for the floating 1,000-bed hospital, which arrived just as the New York City region saw surges in infections and patients requiring intensive-care-level treatment.

There was capacity outside the nursing homes.

Oh, and I liked this quote:

“So 182 might not sound like a whole lot of people – and it’s not – but it was 182 people that got high-quality care here, and it was 182 beds that got freed up out in the city,” O’Brien said by phone from the ship Friday.

Yes, and there were thousands of people who were sent back to nursing homes to infect others.

While a floating hospital sat mostly empty.

That wasn’t the only extra resource sent and not used. But that was the most blatant.

Consequences?

We will see how much longer this brou-ha-ha will go on.

The only concrete thing I’ve seen so far is this: Local legislators join call to remove Cuomo’s emergency powers after NY Post report

Some Democrats are now joining the call to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of emergency executive powers.

This comes amid a report from the New York Post which indicates data on nursing home deaths was withheld. An audio recording purportedly captured Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, saying the state paused the release of the data over concerns it could be used against the administration by the Department of Justice.

Fourteen Democratic state senators, including two from our area, are among those now joining Republicans to take away those emergency powers before they expire in April.

A YEAR after they were given.

Why does the governor still have “emergency” powers, by the way? I’m not digging up the history of the word “emergency”, but the concept is that something is “emerging” rapidly, which is why you need to give an executive extra powers to deal with acute situations that a legislature doesn’t have the speed to address.

I assume the NY state legislature can respond more rapidly than a year. Even the old Roman Republic gave dictators only 6 months for their office.

None of the governors in any state should have emergency powers re: COVID now. The legislatures should actually be doing their jobs.

More coverage

I am really not expecting much to happen to Cuomo over this, even within New York politics. People have hated Cuomo for a very long time, especially within the Democratic party. He holds on because nobody terribly credible to replace him has come up.

The main issue for Cuomo is his likelihood of getting anything within the Biden admin (no), a future Harris admin (also no), or a future run for President (HAHAHAHAHA, no.) I hope that Emmy keeps him warm.