Cuomo faces pushback on response to nursing homes battling coronavirus: 'Totally irresponsible, negligent and stupid'

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo calls Brooklyn clashes 'disturbing,' asks attorney general to review Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (D) has received national attention and praise over how he's handled the coronavirus pandemic in the Empire State but is now facing mounting pressure to address the concerning number of COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in nursing homes in the state.

New York is the state that has been hit hardest by COVID-19, leading the country in both cases, with more than 333,000, and deaths, with more than 26,000. New York also leads the country in nursing home deaths.

According to The Associated Press, New York has more than 5,300 of the country's approximately 25,000 deaths that have occurred in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

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While Cuomo has worked hard to drive down New York's infection rate and daily new hospitalizations during the pandemic, he has struggled with nursing homes and the challenges they present.

Those in nursing homes often fall into both of the demographics that have the greatest risk of fatal complications from COVID-19: the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.

“We’ve tried everything to keep it out of a nursing home, but it’s virtually impossible,” Cuomo said during a recent press briefing. “Now is not the best time to put your mother in a nursing home. That is a fact.”

In its defense, the Cuomo administration has said it has given nursing homes more than 10 million pieces of personal protective equipment and has created a database with nearly 100,000 workers who have helped out in hundreds of nursing homes around the state, the AP reported.

However, critics of Cuomo's response have argued that he's done nowhere near enough to stop the spread of the pandemic through his state's nursing homes, citing a directive from the state in late March that forced nursing homes to readmit COVID-19 patients who had been discharged from the hospital.

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“The way this has been handled by the state is totally irresponsible, negligent and stupid,” Elaine Mazzotta, a nurse whose mother passed away in April of suspected COVID-19 at a Long Island nursing home, told the wire service. “They knew better. They shouldn’t have sent these people into nursing homes.”

It took New York weeks to publicly report the number of deaths in individual homes, and it still does not report the number of cases. 

“They should have announced to the public: ‘We have a problem in nursing homes. We’re going to help them, but you need to know where it is,’” former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey (R) told the AP. “Instead, they took the opposite tack: They hid it.”