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When addressing the deadly non-directives and directives forced on nursing homes before and during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, you make mention that “nursing homes have licensed medical professionals and staff that could have used responsible protocols.”

What you did not take into consideration is, we are under a state of emergency and all directives related to the protocol for treating COVID-19 cases and the acceptance of patients in medical facilities without requiring COVID-19 testing and results beforehand, were mandated by Governor Cuomo and his administration, per written directives, and as we all heard on the daily media updates.

Governor Cuomo and the NYS DOH issued the following directive to nursing homes throughout our state – No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. As well as his deadly directives for nursing homes to reuse dirty personal protection equipment (PPE), isolating positive COVID-19 cases only, instead of mandating 100% testing of all asymptomatic persons being admitted into the nursing homes, which would have given the health care providers an earlier opportunity to save lives. 

You should be asking what was the Governor’s state policy and management plan for handling an infectious pandemic and the PPE readiness supply; what were the directives for procuring and readying?

I’m not sure why you refer to utilizing the U.S.N.S. Comfort and Javits Center to treat COVID positive patients as drinking the President’s “Kool Aid,” when it was Governor Cuomo who asked for help from our federal government.

Both the Comfort and Javits Center were designated for non-COVID hospital patients and underutilized; I ask, what was the Governor’s plan B for these emergent, well-equipped and skilled centers? Did he miss an opportunity to further remove and cohort the infectious residents away from the nursing homes, which could have a safer alternative for cohorting and treating patients more efficiently and rapidly?

So, let’s put the blame just where it should be, on the state’s leader, Governor Cuomo, our disastrous Mayor and their “team of specialists,” who in as early in March, reassured the public to live their lives as if nothing was brewing. Here is when the COVID-19 virus throttled and proliferated with a fury, infecting the unsuspecting, consequently increasing the contagion!

Their botched mishandling and blatant disregard for our nursing homes created a further crisis by causing the, possibly preventable, deaths of a large portion of the 5000 plus members of our most vulnerable population who succumbed to the virus.

In true Cuomo “wasn’t my fault” form, after media outlets and elected officials reported on his deadly directives, the Governor ordered the NYS DOH to visit nursing homes to conduct unannounced surveys in an effort to find reasons to lay the blame on the nursing homes and clear him of guilt. The crippling and rippling effect of COVID-19 on our city and state will undoubtedly cause our neighbors and families to suffer and grieve, and to endure financial hardships, including the self-sacrificing frontline workers in hospitals and nursing homes, and all other employment sectors.

Where I do agree with you is, if hospitals in NYC such as Peninsula Hospital were not closed, there would have been more beds readily available to treat patients for our in-need and vulnerable communities.

Joann Ariola

(Joann Ariola is New York Republican State Committeewoman for the 23rd Assembly District)

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