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Cuomo finds ways to wash hands of NY nursing home deaths

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s aura of being bulletproof during the coronavirus crisis may finally be wearing off.

On Wednesday, Newsweek reported that the Democratic governor’s approval rating, as measured by a Siena College poll, had fallen 11 percentage points during May. Still, a shockingly high 66% of New Yorkers give their governor a favorable rating. That was primarily thanks to Democrats. According to Newsweek, 55% of Republicans and 61% of independents viewed Cuomo unfavorably.

The reason for the decline, Newsweek noted: 48% of respondents “rated him negatively for how he addressed the needs of nursing homes during the pandemic.”

So unhappy with his handling of nursing homes, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and her GOP colleagues joined together to call for an investigation of Cuomo’s “failed nursing home policies” on May 15.

However, Cuomo’s administration has found a way to make sure New Yorkers won’t be bothered with recalling such unpleasantness, as a key piece of evidence has been erased from public view.

As Fox News reported on Tuesday, “New York officials have scrubbed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 order requiring nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients from the state health department website — even as Cuomo’s office insists that the order, which has been linked to thousands of nursing home deaths, remains in effect.

“The web page that once contained the order,” the article continues, “now directs to a page indicating that the file is ‘not found.’ The archive indicates that the deletion occurred sometime after May 5, around the time that criticism over New York’s nursing home fatalities intensified.”

The deleted page suggests the order may be found via another link. Clicking on that URL connects to a four-page document written in French. Fox News pointed out that the original page can be found on the Wayback Machine internet site.

Fox News also reported that a Health Department spokesperson declined to say “whether the governor’s office played a role in the decision to eliminate the text of the March 25 order from the DOH website.”

Gov. Cuomo subsequently issued a revised order on May 10, diverting elderly COVID-19-positive patients from nursing homes. But the state still leads the nation in nursing home deaths, topping 5,000, which may be low considering that New York’s practice was to count virus-positive nursing home patients who died in hospitals to be added to the hospital’s total.

It remains to be seen whether Cuomo’s job-approval rating will take another hit. On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that in 2018 the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents health care providers, gave Cuomo a $1 million re-election campaign donation. Last month, Cuomo signed a bill that shields executives at hospitals and nursing homes from lawsuits related to COVID-19.   

Lately, Cuomo has tried to shift blame for the nursing home carnage to the Trump administration. “New York followed the president’s agencies’ guidance,” Cuomo said at a recent press conference. “What New York did was follow what the Republican administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”

Sure, and if you accept that, Cuomo also has a bridge in Brooklyn he’d like to talk to you about. 

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