Governor Cuomo is a master of distraction and political sleight of hand. But don’t let his celebratory poster and premature victory lap over coronavirus distract you from an awful truth: at least 6,300 seniors living in nursing homes died in the aftermath of his decision to allow COVID-positive patients back into their facilities.
I say “at least” because a non-partisan study by the EmpireCenter puts the number of seniors who died at closer to 10,000. Last week, the governor’s office issued its internal report on his nursing home disaster and instead of accepting any responsibility, shifted the entirety of blame to the caregivers and families of the deceased.
That’s just cruel and unacceptable. For months, I’ve been urging the state Legislature to conduct an independent investigation into the deaths of seniors in nursing homes. We need to know why the decision was made to allow patients with coronavirus to return to places where the illness could spread like wildfire among a vulnerable population. And we need to know exactly what went wrong so we can ensure similar tragedies never happen again.
I’m glad that the state Senate is finally taking action and conducting a hearing, and I urge them to use all available investigative options to pursue the truth. That means using its powers of subpoena to hear directly from Governor Cuomo, Commissioner of Health Dr. Zucker, and any other state officials involved in this ill-fated decision.
The families of the deceased deserve answers. They deserve to hear the truth. That can only be achieved if the Senate uses its ability to subpoena and holds those in power accountable for their actions. Taking it one step further, understanding the truth in what went wrong will provide the information needed to ultimately protect our vulnerable population.