Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 order requiring nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept recovering coronavirus patients has disappeared from the New York State Department of Health’s website.
The webpage for Cuomo’s order says the document is “not found,” though it can still be seen on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. It took the governor roughly six weeks to reverse the order, which has been blamed for the high death rate among New York’s elderly.
The order’s disappearance, which was first reported by Fox News on Tuesday, comes as Cuomo has faced increasing levels of criticism for his handling of coronavirus. A Cuomo spokesperson told Fox News the order’s disappearance was part of a routine website update.
New York knowingly omitted an unknown number of coronavirus deaths in recent reports regarding residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities as a result of a quiet rule change, the agency acknowledged earlier in May following a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The state changed the criteria for counting nursing home deaths between April 28 and May 3, following several days of scrutiny of the Cuomo nursing home order.
Until at least April 28, the health department’s tally of nursing home deaths included all coronavirus deaths of nursing home and adult care facility residents, regardless of whether the patient died at their long-term care facility or at a hospital. By May 3, the department had made a subtle change to its disclosures, according to web archives.
As a result of the change, the state now only discloses coronavirus deaths of long-term care patients who died while physically present at their facility.
In other words: A nursing home resident, who becomes sick at their nursing home and then dies an hour after arriving at a hospital, isn’t counted in the state’s tally of nursing home deaths.
“DOH posted updated guidance that builds on the original March 25 DOH guidance which barred nursing homes from discriminating against COVID patients,” Cuomo’s senior deputy communications director Peter Ajemian told the DCNF in an emailed statement.
“As we said at the time, the updated guidance didn’t supersede the March 25th guidance – rather, it added a new requirement that says hospitals cannot discharge patients to nursing homes until they test negative,” Ajemian added.
“Then and now, nursing homes cannot discriminate against COVID patients and they cannot accept patients if they aren’t able to provide adequate care, including staff screenings, PPE and infection control measures like cohorting.”