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New York health chief defends state’s decision to make nursing homes take Covid patients


New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Friday defended the state’s decision in March to make nursing homes take residents from hospitals that had the coronavirus, blaming many of the virus’ unfold on workers members.

The directive, issued on March 25, prohibited nursing homes from denying admission or readmission to residents contaminated with Covid-19. The directive additionally banned nursing homes from testing patients earlier than entry, NBC News reported. The coverage was later reversed in May.

Zucker stated on Friday that, on the time, New York’s coronavirus hospitalization fee was rising “at a staggering pace” and capability within the state’s intensive care items was working skinny. By permitting the residents to return to the nursing homes, it helped shield the health-care system from collapsing, he stated.

“You can only review a decision with the facts that you had at the time,” Zucker stated throughout a press briefing alongside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “And with the facts that we had at that moment in time, it was the correct decision from a public health point of view.”

Zucker stated the decision was based mostly on suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued on the time that stated nursing homes ought to admit any residents they usually would admit, together with individuals recognized with Covid-19, so long as precautions have been in place.

 A CDC spokesperson wasn’t instantly accessible to touch upon Zucker’s remarks.

“What if we hadn’t done March 25? Hospital beds that ended up saving lives would not have been available because they would’ve been occupied by someone who could’ve been discharged,” Zucker stated. “We made the right public health decision at the time and, faced with the same facts, we would make the same decisions again.”

The Covid-19 patients who returned to the nursing homes have been probably not contagious, in accordance to the CDC’s steerage on the time, and have been separated from different residents. Zucker added that state legislation requires nursing homes to deny residents if they do not have the power to correctly take care of them.

“We simply said you cannot deny admission based on Covid status,” he stated. “We never said you must accept, we said you can’t deny.”

The feedback from the state’s prime health official come because the Cuomo administration faces bipartisan criticism over its dealing with of nursing dwelling Covid-19 deaths. An investigation from New York Attorney General Letitia James published in late January discovered the New York Department of Health underreported Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes by as a lot as 50%.

On Friday, Cuomo and Zucker stated many of the virus’s unfold wasn’t due to the Covid-positive resident, nevertheless it was coming from the workers members caring for them.

“Covid came in to the nursing homes from the staff. They got it at home, they got it in the grocery store, they went to work and they brought in Covid,” Cuomo stated.

Cuomo has aggressively defended the state’s rely, nonetheless, saying that these deaths have been counted as a part of fatalities at hospitals, not at nursing homes. The Democratic governor has apologized for “creating a void” by not offering sufficient data quick sufficient and never combating again in opposition to misinformation.

“Twitter, bogus reports, become a reality at one point,” Cuomo stated. “Social media, 24-hour news stations, if you don’t correct it, it gets repeated … and then people think it’s true.”

In August, federal prosecutors below the Trump administration requested data relating to New York’s nursing dwelling deaths, which Cuomo has criticized as being politically motivated. The state legislature additionally requested for comparable data, however the Cuomo administration put that request on maintain to concentrate on the one from the Department of Justice, the governor stated.

One of Cuomo’s prime aides, Melissa DeRosa, reportedly advised Democratic lawmakers that the governor’s administration “froze” on their request as a result of they have been fearful the info could be used in opposition to them by the Department of Justice, the Associated Press reported.

DeRosa has since tried to make clear her feedback, saying in an announcement final week that she was making an attempt to clarify to the lawmakers that they want to concentrate on the Justice Department’s request first.

“We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout,” DeRosa stated within the assertion. “As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked.”



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