BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The nursing home crisis in New York State turned political Thursday as Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, blasted Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for his administration’s COVID-19 policies in nursing homes.
“It just shows you what’s really driving this nursing home crisis in New York,” Reed said on a video news conference with reporters and other GOP legislators. “The governor’s more interested in being a showhorse than a workhorse, and shame on him.”
Reed was steaming following a roundtable discussion on nursing home COVID-19 response involving state lawmakers, nursing home operators and hospitals. A member of the governor’s staff informed Reed 45 minutes before the event that no representative from the administration would attend the roundtable, he said.
“I have not received one call [from Cuomo] in three years, let alone in this crisis where you have 6,800 dead seniors that are owed an explanation in memory of their death and their souls as to what happened with them,” Reed said.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has won bipartisan praise for his handling of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York, but his administration has been faulted for a controversial order that mandated nursing homes accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals.
Experts say that decision made nursing homes a breeding ground for the virus and resulted in more than 6,000 confirmed and presumed deaths from the virus, the most of any state in the nation. The policy has since been reversed by the administration.
Reed, who is sometimes mentioned as a potential GOP challenger to Cuomo in the 2022 governor’s race, did not say what he would have done if he were in the governor’s position during the pandemic’s outbreak.
But he also criticized what Cuomo has described as an aggressive ramping-up of testing standards in nursing homes. Cuomo announced last week that the state would require all nursing home employees to get tested for the virus twice a week.
Reed said after consulting with nursing home owners that the mandate was “not based on science.”
“It puts our nursing homes’ financial condition at risk, which means they can’t service their population, which means they can’t cover their staff, they can’t cover their payrolls and if those nursing homes have to shut down, I think the governor owes an explanation as to what is going to happen to those thousands of seniors that are now not going to have a residence to live in because those facilities can’t handle this burden,” Reed said.
The governor’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for a response to Reed’s remarks.