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Cuomo Order That Sent Estimated 4,300 Covid-19 Patients to Nursing Homes Denounced as 'Single Dumbest Decision Anyone Could Make'

"It was a death sentence."

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is seen during a press conference at the field hospital site at the Javits Center in New York City. (Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing new criticism after the Associated Press reported Friday that a state directive led to over 4,300 still recovering coronavirus patients being sent to New York's "already vulnerable nursing homes."

"It was a death sentence," tweeted Daniel Choi, a doctor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He called the directive a "horrendous idea" and "definitely not something any doctor taking care of nursing home patients would have signed off on."

The state health department directive (pdf), issued March 25, barred nursing homes from requiring patients deemed "medically stable" from being tested for Covid-19 prior to admission. Cuomo, a Democrat, rescinded the order May 10, but not before thousands of infected patients likely entered nursing homes and contributed to the coronavirus's spread.

The estimated number tallied by the AP amounts to what would have been a "big and indefensible problem for facilities," the outlet reported.

From the AP:

"It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people," Daniel Arbeeny said of the directive, which prompted him to pull his 88-year-old father out of a Brooklyn nursing home where more than 50 people have died. His father later died of Covid-19 at home.

"This isn't rocket science," Arbeeny said. "We knew the most vulnerable—the elderly and compromised—are in nursing homes and rehab centers."

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CBS New York reported Friday that the conoravirus has taken the lives of almost 5% of nursing home residents in the state, and this week the Cuomo tried to deflect blame for the directive.

"Why did the state do that with Covid patients in nursing homes?" asked Cuomo. "It's because the state followed President Trump's CDC guidelines. So they should ask President Trump."

In an op-ed at the Guardian on Wednesday questioning the recent accolades heaped on the New York governor—including suggestions that Cuomo run for president—journalists Lyta Gold and Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs magazine write that "Cuomo should be one of the most loathed officials in America right now. "

Gold and Robinson argue that blame for New York's high death toll from the virus should sit largely with Cuomo.

"Federal failures played a role, of course, but this tragedy was absolutely due, in part, to decisions by the governor," they wrote, citing as examples his failure to take swift action, delays in imposing social distancing measures, Medicaid cuts both before and after the start of the pandemic, and his partnership with Silicon Valley billionaires to "reimagine education."

"This is the problem: for too long, Democrats have measured their politicians by 'whether they are better than Republicans,' wrote Gold and Robinson. "This sets the bar very low indeed, and means that Democrats end up settling for incompetent and amoral leaders who betray progressive values again and again."

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