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Cuomo Shrugs Off Calls for Federal Probe Into Nursing Home Deaths

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Credit: Dan Clark

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday appeared to be unbothered by calls from Republicans in Congress for a federal probe into New York’s handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis, saying the state followed federal guidance for those communities.

Cuomo, who’s been selectively supportive of the federal government over the last two months, appeared to suggest that he wouldn’t care either way if the state’s actions were scrutinized.

“If the federal government wants to start a probe, they can start a probe,” Cuomo said. “What do I have to do with whether or not a federal probe happens?”

“it is irrelevant to me. I have no role in determining a federal probe. I don't welcome, not welcome. It doesn't matter. President Trump does what he wants to do. He doesn't listen to a governor,” Cuomo continued.

Late last week, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, joined a group of other federal lawmakers from New York in calling for a federal investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

New York, in late March, told nursing homes that if they had the capacity to treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19, they had to accept those individuals to their facilities if they were well enough to be discharged from the hospital.

That decision has been criticized by state and federal lawmakers alike, mostly Republican, who say the directive endangered the lives of other patients at nursing homes who were vulnerable to the disease.

But Cuomo, on Wednesday, blamed President Donald Trump for the policy, saying it was his administration that came up with it in the first place.

“It's because the state followed President Trump's CDC guidance, so they should ask President Trump,” Cuomo said. “I think I think that will stop the conversation.”

Cuomo has since enacted a new regulation, saying patients can’t be discharged to nursing homes in New York unless they first test negative for the coronavirus. With fewer cases, hospital capacity isn’t as much of a concern, Cuomo said Wednesday.

The net number of hospitalizations dropped to 5,570 Tuesday, the latest data available from the state. The number of new hospitalizations hit the lowest point the state’s seen since March 20, with just 295 additional cases requiring treatment.

An additional 112 people died from the disease in New York Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 22,976.