Andrew Cuomo sued over COVID-19 nursing home order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at a press conference
Governor Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, speaks during a coronavirus press conference, October 5, 2020. |

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is being sued over his pandemic order placing thousands of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes during the pandemic, which critics say puts thousands of seniors at risk.

Daniel Arbeeny, whose 89-year-old father died in April 2020 after developing coronavirus symptoms while at a nursing home in Brooklyn, filed a class action lawsuit in US District Court for the Eastern District on Tuesday. from New York.

The filing names Cuomo, Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa and former New York State Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker as defendants.

“This policy of mandatory admission, non-testing, and commingling of nursing home residents constituted reckless endangerment by all of the defendants,” the lawsuit reads, according to the New York Post.

Arbeeny told the outlet that his lawsuit seeks to hold officials accountable for the directive Cuomo issued in March 2020 requiring recovering COVID-19 patients to be transferred to nursing homes.

“Wrongful death is wrongful death, whether it’s the state or not,” Arbeeny reportedly said. “This is wrong. The government needs to make amends for this.”

In June 2021, Arbeeny penned an opinion column with his brother Peter, writing that “thousands of grieving families who have lost loved ones in nursing homes are seeking the truth about Cuomo’s unfortunate notice and cover-up of the true death toll”.

“Common sense tells us that nursing homes are the absolute last place any sane elected leader should send COVID-positive patients,” the Arbeeny brothers wrote.

“The governor’s strategy was to make nursing homes the first and only place to send inpatients who were discharged COVID-19 positive, and without PPE. This happened even though no nursing homes were properly equipped to handle COVID-19 patients in March 2020.”

In March 2020, as the pandemic shutdowns began, a Cuomo ordered approximately 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients to be transported to hundreds of New York nursing homes. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the 9,056 recovering patients sent to nursing homes was 40% higher than what the state health department had previously reported.

Cuomo’s aide DeRosa told state lawmakers in February 2021 that the administration withheld data on the number of deaths in state nursing homes because they feared the information from being “used against us” by federal prosecutors.

Two weeks earlier, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report stating that the actual death toll of nursing home residents between March and August 2020 could have been twice as high as the state had reported.

These revelations, combined with the multiple sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo, led to his resignation as governor in August last year.

Last month, the New York State Comptroller’s Office released an audit that found Cuomo’s health department “misled the public” about nursing home death data and “was not transparent in its reporting of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.”

“While the Department’s duty is to act only to promote public health, we have determined that, rather than providing accurate and reliable information during a public health emergency, the Department has instead matched its presentation to the narrative. of the executive, often presenting data in a way that misleads the public,” the report said.

“Whether due to the poor quality data it initially collected or, later, a deliberate decision, during certain periods of the pandemic, the Department underestimated the number of deaths in nursing homes. up to 50%”, the audit report added.

It was reported earlier this year that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not plan to prosecute Cuomo over the temporary COVID-19 nursing home order.

The lawsuit comes as a UK court ruled earlier this week that a government policy of sending hospitalized patients back to nursing homes in March and April 2020 without first testing them for COVID- 19 was illegal because it did not take into account the risk it would pose to the elderly and vulnerable.

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