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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cuomo Says Nursing Homes Accepted Coronavirus Patients For the Money and Tries To Exonerate Himself in the Nursing Home Scandal

I love New York City.

Aside from five years living in Cairo Egypt and a couple of years in Bologna Italy, London England, Washington D.C. and Canada, NYC has been my home.

But there are people in politics here who are simply, in my opinion, out of line. One most certainly is Governor Andrew Cuomo and another is NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Their actions on the coronavirus and the deaths from this virus are reprehensible. The dead are treated like trash.

This nursing home disaster is on you, Gov. Cuomo: Goodwin
Michael Goodwin, NY POST, May 5, 2020
There must be a better way.

A tearful Tamisha Covington looks for answers on the whereabouts of the body of
her beloved mother, Deborah Harris.

Paul Martinka
By Georgett Roberts and Bruce Golding, NY POST, April 30, 2020

Grieving families outraged over NYC funeral home body-storage scandal

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Coronavirus: New York funeral home puts corpses in lorries

BBC, April 30, 2020
Dozens of bodies have been found stored in moving lorries in New York, authorities say, after passersby complained of the smell.
The Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn had rented trucks and put about 50 corpses inside with ice.
One official quoted anonymously in the New York Times said the home's freezer had stopped working.
Police were called to the scene and sealed off the area. A refrigerated truck later arrived.
Workers in protective suits were later seen moving bodies.
It is unclear if these were victims of the coronavirus. But officials and funeral homes have struggled to cope with the huge numbers of dead in New York, the worst-affected state in the US.

More than 18,000 people have died in New York City alone, according to Johns Hopkins University data. As a whole, the US has more than one million confirmed cases of coronavirus, more than any other country.
"They had dead bodies in the vans and trucks," the owner of the building next door told the New York Times. "They were on top of each other in body bags... all of [the vehicles] were packed."
Eric Adams, the Borough President of Brooklyn, went to the scene after the funeral home complaint emerged.
"While this situation is under investigation, we should not have what we have right now, with trucks lining the streets filled with bodies," he later told the New York Daily News.
Mr. Adams said they were alerted by "people who walked by who saw some leakage and detected an odor coming from a truck."
By law, funeral directors must keep bodies in safe conditions that prevent infection before they are buried or cremated. The home has since been cited by health officials.
Mourners had gathered in large numbers to mourn the passing of a rabbi in Williamsburg.
"If in my passion and in my emotion I said something that was hurtful, I'm sorry about that," Mr de Blasio said.
"I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we're going to deal with it very, very aggressively."
From Betsy Combier:
By Bernadette Hogan, Carl Campanile and Bruce Golding, NY POST, April 22, 2020
Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted that “it’s not our job” to provide coronavirus-ravaged nursing homes with personal protective equipment — even as more than 3,000 patients have lost their lives in facilities ordered by his administration to take in COVID-19 patients.
“We have been helping them with more PPE but, again, it’s not our job,” Cuomo said Wednesday during his daily briefing in Albany.
Pressed on why coronavirus patients were not kept out of the facilities, which treat the elderly and other vulnerable populations, Cuomo insisted that the state-regulated, but did not “run,” New York’s privately owned nursing homes.
“You’ll be out of business if you’re not providing your staff with the right equipment. You’re out of business. That we can do,” he said of state regulations.
Nursing homes, Cuomo said, “have to do the job they’re getting paid to do, and if they’re not doing the job they’re getting paid to do, and they’re violating state regulations, then that’s a different issue — then they should lose their license.”
But Cuomo’s insistence that his Health Department adequately regulates nursing homes was immediately contradicted by his own blunt assessment that “if somebody says to me, ‘Should I put my mother in a nursing home now?’ Now is not the best time to put your mother in a nursing home.”
As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had killed at least 3,505 residents of New York state nursing homes and adult care facilities — almost one-quarter of the state’s death toll of 15,302, according to Health Department data. And officials have warned that tally of nursing home fatalities is likely an undercount.
Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Health Center has reported the most deaths from the pandemic of any nursing home in the state with 55 fatalities, according to the statistics.
Cuomo’s “not our job” remark came little more than a month after he told lawmakers to “Do your job” and show up in Albany for budget negotiations.
And it followed weeks of statements from Cuomo about the importance of protecting older people and those with compromised immune systems from the pandemic.
“Those are the people who are going to be vulnerable to the mortality of this disease,” Cuomo said on March 24. “It’s lives, it’s grandmothers and grandfathers and sisters and brothers.”
Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, on Wednesday defended the state’s policy of requiring nursing homes to re-admit residents who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus — and also not deny admission to new residents with the disease.
“We are working very closely with the leadership of the nursing homes, both to get more staff to help them out [and] obviously, the supplies, we’ve been working very hard on that,” Zucker said.
The head of the state’s nursing-home industry group, Stephen Hanse, blamed the admission policy for bringing the coronavirus into some homes — where the governor has acknowledged that it spreads “like fire in dry grass.”
“This prevented them from safeguarding their residents and staff,” said Hanse, CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association.
Hanse added that shortages of protective masks, gloves and gowns were helping fuel the crisis.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) said he found Cuomo’s comments “infuriating.”
“The buck stops with him. But he’s saying the buck doesn’t stop with him,” Kim said.
“We gave him the authority to save lives and he’s not.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams accused Cuomo of “unacceptable lapses in leadership” after assuming “unprecedented power to address this public health crisis, causing him to enjoy an 87 percent approval rating and national fame.”

“Instead of accountability for errors, so we can learn and move forward, he instead says protecting the people who he knows are most vulnerable — who are losing their lives in unsafe conditions — is not his job,” Williams said.
Marie Marsala, whose 54-year-old daughter has multiple sclerosis and lives in a Long Island nursing home, said she was “very angry” at Cuomo.
“It’s his job to protect the people who are compromised,” said Marsala, 78, of Smithtown.
“He governs all of us, so he has to govern according to the needs of the people — and the people in the nursing homes need to be treated in a way that they’re not put in jeopardy.”
State officials wouldn’t detail how much protective gear they’ve given nursing homes, but City Hall said it is boosting its weekly deliveries to both public and private facilities by 50 percent.
Last week’s shipment included 40,000 N95 face masks, 800,000 surgical masks, 1.5 million disposable gloves and 105,000 gowns and coveralls, mayoral spokeswoman Avery Cohen said.
The city has also deployed 210 clinical staffers to various nursing homes and plans to at least double that number, Cohen said.
During Wednesday’s online meeting of the City Council, Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) said he favored having “other places for isolation outside of the nursing home setting” for residents with the coronavirus, to prevent the introduction of the deadly disease “if it is not already there.”
“So we need to set up dormitories or hotels that could just be for people who were in nursing homes where we could still provide the medical services and attention that would be needed,” he said.
City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) demanded that surplus hospital beds be used to help alleviate the crisis.
“Saying you have these empty beds that everyone keeps talking about and meanwhile have nursing home residents who are dying, getting sick and severe staff shortage inside many nursing homes,” he asked. “Why not transport sick nursing home residents there?
Additional reporting by Gabrielle Fonrouge, Julia Marsh and Rich Calder

Coronavirus patients are being readmitted to nursing homes in New York after testing positive despite risks of spreading infection – and Governor Cuomo didn’t know

National Public Voice April 21, 2020

New York State Outrage: Governor Andrew Cuomo Did Not Know His State's Nursing Home Policy

How USNS Comfort went from a symbol of hope with the president's blessing to heading back from NYC having treated fewer than 180 patients
by Ashley Collman, New York Times Business InsiderApril 23, 2020

The fix is obviously in on Cuomo’s ‘investigation’ of nursing-home horrors

New York refused to send nursing homes COVID-19 patients to nearly empty USNS Comfort

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 Nursing Home Scandal

Andrew Cuomo Blames Nursing Homes’ Greed for Not Rejecting Coronavirus Patients State Made Them Accept
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested Monday that “money” was partly to blame for nursing homes failing to turn away coronavirus patients that they could not care for — after a state directive requiring them to take those patients.
Cuomo has come under increasing criticism for a March 25 directive requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients. The directive read, in part (original emphasis): “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
The policy is being scrutinized more closely as some 25% of the state’s fatalities from coronavirus have occurred in nursing homes.
ritics argue that the state should not have put coronavirus patients in facilities housing the elderly, who are the most vulnerable to the illness. New Jersey and California have similar policies.
Cuomo has insisted that it is the nursing homes’ responsibility to refer patients to the state department of health, or to other facilities if they cannot care for those patients.
He reiterated that argument on Monday, and also took issue with a story in the New York Post about a nursing home in Brooklyn, the Cobble Hill Health Center, which told the state in early April that it could not handle coronavirus patients, but was refused permission to transfer them to facilities at the Jacob Javits Center or the USNS Comfort, both set up by the federal government.
The Post reported:
The CEO of a hard-hit Brooklyn nursing home, where 55 patients have died from the coronavirus, told The Post last week that he’d been warning state Health Department officials for weeks he had staffing and equipment issues — yet received little help.
“There is no way for us to prevent the spread under these conditions,’’ the head of the Cobble Hill Health Center, Donny Tuchman, wrote in an e-mail to the department on April 8.
He said he asked to move some patients to the makeshift wards at Manhattan’s Javits Center and aboard the city-docked USNS Comfort amid the pandemic, only to be told those two spots were receiving only patients from hospitals.
“I made specific requests to transfer patients, and it didn’t happen,’’ Tuchman told The Post. “There weren’t options.”
Gov. Cuomo called the story “a bit misleading,” saying: “The Comfort is a federal facility, it doesn’t take transfers from nursing homes, it only takes transfers from hospitals. That’s why the Comfort wouldn’t take a transfer from a nursing home. Because the specific protocol on that specific ship said that people have to come from a hospital.”
He added: “You can’t refer from the nursing home to the Comfort. You can’t refer to a nursing home to the Marriott Hotel, you can’t refer to the Hilton. Yeah, I know. But that nursing home can call any other facility, or can call the Department of Health, and the Department of Health will take that person and find a facility.”
Cuomo added: “Who cares about just that ship, if the point is that nursing home should have referred that patient, and should have told the Department of Health, ‘I can’t handle these patients.'”
He added that nursing homes knew they could lose “money” if they rejected patients, so they had an incentive to take coronavirus patients even if they could not care for them without endangering other patients.
“Whatever reason they want, they call the Department of Health, and say, ‘You take Bernadette. I can’t handle her. And the Department of Health takes [her]. Now, when the Department of Health takes Bernadette, they no longer get paid for Bernadette. Oh! Money.”
Cuomo said that nursing homes were allowed to transfer coronavirus patients back to hospitals if they themselves could not care for them, but he claimed that there were no cases in which nursing homes had done so.
Asked whether nursing homes feared scrutiny from state regulators if they rejected coronavirus patients, Cuomo said that the reality was contrary: that nursing homes that could not provide adequate care faced “scrutiny if they don’t do that.”
The governor was later asked whether he was saying that nursing homes cared for profits more than for patients’ welfare.
“No. Not at all,” Cuomo said.
He also said that the state had several COVID-only facilities that were available as alternatives.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Monday, April 27, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That the Federal Government Owes $Billions To Obamacare Insurers

I would say this is very bad timing, for major insurers to get $ billions from the Federal government. Unless, of course, the winners don't take all, but give it back or to the neediest people in the US.

Yeah, I know that the likelihood of this happening is zero.

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

From Politico:

Supreme Court rules government must pay billions to Obamacare insurers

The decision is a big win for health insurers who struggled in the health care law's early years.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled the federal government owes health insurers massive payments from an Obamacare program shielding them from financial risks after the companies accused Washington of reneging on its funding promises.

The 8-1 decision could open the floodgates for federal cash to the insurance industry. Insurers who accused the government of a “bait and switch” claimed they’re owed $12 billion from the Affordable Care Act program.

The case concerned a temporary fund in the health care law intended as a buffer for health plans who had sicker customers than expected in the newly overhauled insurance marketplaces. Obamacare’s drafters hoped the program would be funded by industry, but health plans quickly racked up losses when the marketplaces opened in 2014. The next year, Republican lawmakers approved the first in a series of annual appropriations riders barring HHS from using taxpayer dollars to bankroll the program, known as risk corridors.

The high court agreed with insurers that the congressional spending restrictions didn’t release the government from its original promise to fund the Obamacare program. The court said Congress had created "a rare money-mandating obligation" that later appropriations language couldn't repeal.

"These holdings reflect a principle as old as the Nation itself: The Government should honor its obligations," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the majority opinion.

Justice Samuel Alito, in a dissenting opinion, criticized the ruling as effectively providing a massive bailout for the insurance industry.

"Under the court’s decision, billions of taxpayer dollars will be turned over to insurance companies that bet unsuccessfully on the success of the program in question," Alito wrote.

The decision will have little impact on Obamacare. The law faces a legal threat in a separate case brought by Republican-led states challenging the law’s constitutionality, which the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, likely later this year. But the ruling represents a loss for the Trump administration, which argued it wasn’t obligated to make the risk corridor payments and is supporting the red states’ lawsuit.

The three-year risk corridors program closed in 2016. Insurance experts said the program’s $12 billion shortfall contributed to turbulence in Obamacare’s early years, as health plans jacked up premiums to cover their losses or abandoned the marketplaces.

The Supreme Court case consolidated lawsuits brought by three small insurers, including one that blamed the risk corridors shortfall for its collapse in 2016. Today's decision will also benefit insurers who brought dozens of identical lawsuits in lower courts.

The decision was a "resounding win" for health insurers, but it also raised new questions about what comes next, said Katie Keith, a Georgetown University law professor and expert on the health care law. Those questions include when the money will go out and how the federal government will distribute the funds.

The justices tasked the lower courts with figuring out the nuts and bolts of the settlement, which will add to the delay in insurers receiving the money.

There are also ongoing legal fights over federally funded nonprofit insurance start-ups. Many of these insurers, known as co-ops, shuttered in the law's early years partly because they didn't receive the risk corridor funds they expected. Some of those defunct health plans turned to hedge funds to help them finance their lawsuits in exchange for a piece of the damages if the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

Insurers hope the decision will also bolster the industry in another pipeline of litigation challenging President Donald Trump’s elimination of a separate Obamacare subsidy program in 2017.

Insurers have filed numerous lawsuits, including a class action suit involving about 100 Obamacare plans, claiming that the federal government broke its promise to fund these so-called cost-sharing reductions, which helped insurers pay poor customers’ medical bills. Those lawsuits have so far been successful in lower courts, but appellate judges who heard arguments last year appeared skeptical of the insurers' case.

Supreme Court Rules Government Must Pay Insurers Under Affordable Care Act Program

Ruling clears insurers to seek roughly $12 billion under an ACA program in place during early implementation of the 2010 health law

By Brent Kendall

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Monday ruled the federal government is obligated to pay billions of dollars to health insurers that sold consumer policies on exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health-care overhaul law.
The court’s ruling clears insurers to seek roughly $12 billion under an ACA program in place during early implementation of the 2010 health law that sought to mitigate financial risks for insurers that sold policies on ACA insurance exchanges, to persuade them to set insurance premiums at prices consumers would accept.
Fewer healthy people participated in the exchanges than anticipated, leading to larger financial losses than many insurers expected. Funding for the ACA “risk corridors” program was supposed to come at least partially through funds collected from insurers that did well on the exchanges. Those collections, however, were far short of what was needed to reimburse insurers that fared poorly, and the industry argued the government was legally obligated to cover the difference.
After the ACA was enacted, Congress in later budget years passed provisions that effectively prohibited the government from making payments under the program.
The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said lawmakers had created money-mandated obligations under the program and couldn’t shirk them.
“These holdings reflect a principle as old as the nation itself: The government should honor its obligations,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in a 31-page opinion.
Insurers before the Supreme Court include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Moda Health Plan Inc. and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co.
The lone dissenter to Monday’s ruling was Justice Samuel Alito, who said it was unclear whether federal law provided the insurers a legal right to go to court and seek damages from the federal government.
“The court infers a private right of action that has the effect of providing a massive bailout for insurance companies that took a calculated risk and lost,” Justice Alito wrote.
Write to Brent Kendall at

Saturday, April 25, 2020

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 Nursing Home Scandal

During the past week newspapers in New York and around the world have read about the horrible number of deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes, which we have documented in previous posts.

Howard Zucker
In sum, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference that he knew nothing about what happened to nursing home residents when they tested positive and asked his health commissioner Howard Zucker to tell the public where the person was placed.

Mr. Zucker said that everyone who tested positive was returned to the nursing home and given proper protection from spreading the virus to others, including staff.

The extremely high number of deaths from the virus in NY State's nursing homes is proof that Zucker's statement was a lie. The newly tested positive people were not given proper protections from spreading the virus. Too many people have died, including staff.

On the list of bad management actions that will now follow Cuomo into, we hope, forced retirement from political life, we have the scandal of the Comfort, a Navy hospital ship equipped to take in 500 COVID-19 patients yet had only 62 patients and the Javitz Center with only 134 patients but 1000 beds available. 

There will be lawsuits for the next 20 years to remedy these deaths and political mismanagement. 

The accountability is all on Governor Cuomo.

Betsy Combier,

Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

New York refused to send nursing homes COVID-19 patients to nearly empty USNS Comfort

New York health officials were warned in writing that a Brooklyn nursing home where 55 patients have died of coronavirus was overwhelmed — weeks before it began topping the state’s official list of resident COVID-19 deaths, damning emails show.
Cobble Hill Health Center CEO Donny Tuchman sent a desperate email to state Health Department officials on April 9, asking if there was “a way for us to send our suspected COVID patients” to the hospital built inside the Javits Convention Center or the US Naval hospital ship Comfort — the under-utilized federal medical facilities on Manhattan’s West Side.
“We don’t have the ability to cohort right now based on staffing and we really want to protect our other patients,” Tuchman wrote in a chain of the emails reviewed by The Post.
He was denied.
“I was told those facilities were only for hospitals” to send their overflow patients, Tuchman said.

At the time Tuchman sent his plea, only 134 of the 1,000 beds at the Javits Center were full and the Comfort — which had just been reconfigured to treat up to 500 COVID-19 patients — had a mere 62 on board.
Adding insult to injury, the Navy hospital ship wound up treating just 179 patients before Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday said it was no longer needed.
The Comfort remained docked at Pier 90 with 29 patients on board Friday but was expected to return to its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, as soon as possible.
Cobble Hill has led all state nursing homes in the number of residents killed by the coronavirus since the state Health Department began releasing those figures last week.

That figure remained stable as of Thursday, the latest date for which statistics were available, and was followed by 51 at Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in Queens.
Kings Harbor Multicare Center in The Bronx, Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Queens, and Carmel Richmond Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Staten Island were next, with 45 deaths each.
Tuchman’s April 9 email wasn’t the only time that the state was put on notice about the dire conditions at Cobble Hill.
In an email one day earlier, Tuchman told Health Department officials that the facility had “over 50 symptomatic patients scattered through the building and almost no gowns.”
Tuchman said Cobble Hill had been asking the city’s Office of Emergency Management “daily” for more gowns, but “gotten only a few hundred delivered.”
“There is no way for us to prevent the spread under these conditions,” he wrote in desperation on April 8. “Is there anything more we can do to protect our patients and staff? Thank you for any help you could be.”
Tuchman got a response 20 minutes later, but all it offered was an attachment with advice on how to conserve PPE, the email chain shows.
“Many facilities have built this guidance into their contingency plan in the event of PPE supply shortages and depletion of supplies. Thanks,” a health official wrote.
A follow-up response about two hours later added, “Please be sure to submit your request through the local OEM daily” — even though Tuchman had said he was already doing that.
Tuchman said Friday the shortages of protective gear grew so severe staffers resorted to wearing trash bags as protection — echoing the situation that scandalized Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan when The Post exposed the practice there last month.
“This has been a very sad and painful experience,” Tuchman added. “Once the virus gets into the building it is very, very hard to control.”
Cuomo sparked widespread outrage earlier this week when he said that providing private nursing homes with PPE was “not our job,” with Mayor de Blasio, a longtime rival, saying there’s a “moral imperative to protect our seniors.”
Cuomo also said Thursday that any nursing home that can’t provide a coronavirus patient with an “adequate level of care” could ask the Health Department to transfer the patient elsewhere, and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he was unaware of any nursing home having made that request.
Under a controversial March 25 order, the Health Department barred nursing homes from refusing admission to “medically stable” coronavirus patients.
In a prepared statement, Health Department spokesman Gary Holmes said, “To be clear: We engaged in conversation with Mr. Tuchman on more than one occasion regarding staffing. He wanted additional help, but stated he was able to meet basic needs under the directive – which included having adequate facilities.”
Holmes also said officials “conducted a focus survey at Cobble Hill and found no deficient practices” and that it would soon be receiving “more than 1,400 gowns and approximately 1,500 face shields.”
“Additionally, as we track inventory for all facilities daily, our records indicate they have more than a week’s supply of N95 masks, two month’s supply of surgical masks, and nearly two week’s supply of gloves,” he added.

The fix is obviously in on Cuomo’s ‘investigation’ of nursing-home horrors

News that Team Cuomo ignored warnings about the nursing-home disaster only confirms that the gov’s call for an investigation is pure deflection. He’s trying to make care facility owners the fall guys for the state’s choices.
The Post reports that a Brooklyn nursing home that’s seen New York’s greatest number of COVID-related deaths (55, on the latest list) wrote the state Health Department on April 8 to plead for help.
Cobble Hill Health Center CEO Donny Tuchman e-mailed four officials to report that his facility had “over 50 symptomatic patients scattered through the building and almost no gowns” and warned, “There is no way for us to prevent the spread under these conditions.”
His closing, in hindsight, is heartbreaking: “Is there anything more we can do to protect our patients and staff? Thank you for any help you could be.”
Someone wrote back 20 minutes later — with a standard attachment offering advice on how to conserve personal protective equipment. (In reply, Tuchman repeated the fact that Cobble Hill didn’t have anything to conserve.)
The concerned CEO made another plea the next day, asking if he could send the home’s suspected coronavirus cases to the field hospital at the Javits Center or the USNS Comfort. No dice, came the answer.
So much for the claims from Gov. Cuomo and his health czar, Dr. Howard Zucker, that overwhelmed facilities just needed to ask for help if handed patients they couldn’t safely handle — thanks to Zucker’s March 25 mandate that all homes accept coronavirus-positive cases.
We expect more damning evidence will surface in the days ahead.
Cuomo has asked Attorney General Tish James to lead an investigation that seems fixed from the start: It will find that nursing homes weren’t remotely prepared to respond to a pandemic.
The real investigation should be into why Zucker insisted on sending coronavirus-positive patients to nursing homes, when it’s been clear from the start that the elderly are most at risk from the virus.
And when any health pro must know, as Rochester’s Hurlbut Care Communities CEO Bob Hurlbut put it this week, that “Physical distancing is nearly impossible in the nursing home environment, due to room sharing and the fact that we provide the most intimate level of care, from brushing teeth to bathing and incontinence care.”
Cuomo himself says the virus spreads in nursing homes “like fire through dry grass.”
Yet the gov refuses to admit any mistakes: “The regulation is common sense: If you can’t provide adequate care, you can’t have the patient in your facility, and that’s your basic fiduciary obligation — I would say, ethical obligation — and it’s also your legal obligation.”
And, says the gov, “it’s not our job” to ensure homes have the supplies they need to keep residents and staff safe. Isn’t that the line that drove Cuomo crazy when President Trump took it?
Now he wants his protégé James — and Zucker’s Health Department — to review the performance of the state’s 600 nursing homes and 500 adult-care establishments? Come on.
Yes, they can find some convincing scapegoats: Again, all too many these institutions were troubled before the crisis. Their profits, and the jobs they provide, bought the political power to get away with it.

And when the pandemic hit, Zucker & Co. actually made things worse — fatally so. It’s madness.

How USNS Comfort went from a symbol of hope with the president's blessing to heading back from NYC having treated fewer than 180 patients
by Ashley Collman, New York Times Business InsiderApril 23, 2020
  • The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort was sent to New York City at the end of March to aid the city's overwhelmed hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Three weeks later, it had just treated 179 patients, and on April 21 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the city didn't need it.
  • President Donald Trump — who personally dispatched the ship to New York City — will soon be returning the ship to its home port in Virginia for another mission.
  • The ship made headlines during its short mission in New York, with multiple crew members getting sick, and outrage over the initial decision not to accept coronavirus patients. 
  • Earlier this week President Donald Trump announced he would be sending the Navy hospital ship Comfort home from New York City, cutting short a highly-touted but anticlimactic mission.
    USNS Comfort arrived in New York City — the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak — on March 30 to aid the city's hospitals by taking all of their non-coronavirus patients.
    But it turned out that the city didn't have many non-coronavirus patients to take, with only 20 patients were admitted to the 1,000-bed hospital ship in its first day. Meanwhile, New York City hospitals were still struggling to make space for a surge of patients.
    The Comfort eventually reconfigured itself into a 500-bed ship to take coronavirus patients, but never came to reaching capacity — by April 21, it had treated just 179 people. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the city no longer needed the ship, and the Comfort is now ready to sail home to Virginia for a new mission.
  • Scroll down for a timeline of the ship's short-lived mission.
  • March 17: New York City was quickly becoming a hot zone in the US coronavirus outbreak. The US Navy dispatched one of its hospital ships, USNS Comfort, to aid the city's overwhelmed medical centers.

  • During a March 17 press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he had ordered the Navy to "lean forward" in deploying the Comfort to New York "before the end of this month."
    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo welcomed the help as hospitals braced for a tidal wave of coronavirus patients. 
    "This will be an extraordinary step," Cuomo said the following day. "It's literally a floating hospital, which will add capacity."
    The Comfort is a converted supertanker that the Navy uses to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Its prior postings had taken it to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and to New York City in 2001 to treat people injured in the September 11 attacks.
    The ship includes 12 fully-equipped operating rooms and capacity for 1,000 beds. It is usually manned by 71 civilians and up to 1,200 Navy medical and communications personnel.

    March 29: President Trump saw off the Comfort as it left its port in Virginia to sail up to New York City. He remarked that it was a "70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York.

  • Source:
  • March 30: The Comfort arrived in New York City the next day, a white beacon of hope for a city that had at the time seen more than 36,000 cases and 790 deaths. That number has since grown to more than 138,000 cases and 9,944 deaths.

  • April 2: The ship is up and running. The New York Times reported that it had accepted just 20 patients on its first day and that it wasn't taking any coronavirus patients.

  • Michael Dowling, the head of New York's largest hospital system, called the Comfort a "joke." He told The Times: "It's pretty ridiculous. If you're not going to help us with the people we need help with, what's the purpose?"

  • April 6: Following the outrage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Trump for permission to let the ship take coronavirus patients.

  • Trump agreed and the Navy reconfigured the ship into a 500-bed hospital to space out patients and lower the risk of spreading the highly-infectious virus.

  • That same day, before the ship started taking coronavirus patients, a crew member tested positive for the disease. This is despite the fact that the crew was ordered to quarantine for two weeks before their departure.

  • That number grew to four in the following weeks. All of the sick crew members have since recovered and are back to work, a Navy spokesman later told The Virginian-Pilot

  • Source: Business Insider

  • April 21: Even after moving to take coronavirus patients, the Comfort didn't come close to reaching capacity — even as the city's hospitals remained overwhelmed. As of Tuesday, the ship had treated a total of 179 patients.

  • During a meeting with the president, Cuomo said that New York no longer needed the Comfort and said it could be sent to a more hard-hit area.

  • Trump said he had taken Cuomo up on his offer and would recall the Comfort to its home port in Virginia, where it will prepare for its next posting. The new mission remains unclear.

  • Trump admitted during a White House briefing that part of the reason the ship was never put to much use in New York City was because its arrival coincided with the opening of a temporary hospital in the Javits convention center.

  • April 24: The Comfort is still in port in New York City, even though Trump said it will be leaving as soon as possible.

  • Meanwhile, the situation in New York appears to be improving. Last Saturday Cuomo said New York may be "past the plateau" with hospitalizations on the decline. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he's seeing "real progress."