America’s Worst Mayor, Bill De Blasio, was asked this morning about the coronavirus crisis in the city’s nursing homes. De Blasio tried to pin the blame on the free market, saying that “a lot” of the nursing homes are “for profit organizations,” which, he claims, raises questions about “whether they put profit first.” But I wonder if the mayor can explain how greedy capitalists could possibly be responsible for the fact that state-run facilities failed to follow government protocols. A nursing home in Queens, operated by the Department of Health, reportedly didn’t isolate infected residents and kept roommates together even if one was suspected of having the virus.
But more to the point – and here’s a scandal that should be on the front page everywhere – the government in New York forced nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients. An unnamed executive at one facility says that the state sent body bags along with the first two COVID-19 patients they were mandated to admit. According to a New York Post report, 30 residents at that nursing home would go on to perish from the disease. The same executive says that Governor Andrew Cuomo “has blood on his hands.” It is hard to disagree with that assessment. While the national media continues to polish Cuomo’s shoes and call him a hero, he is apparently largely responsible for introducing the virus into the most vulnerable populations.
Cuomo’s failure to protect the elderly and infirm might be especially egregious, but many other governors and state governments should be called to account alongside him. While states around the country have expended untold resources to shut down their economies and enforce house arrest orders on millions of healthy people, a huge preponderance of the carnage is happening in nursing homes. In Pennsylvania, elderly care facilities account for 80 percent of all coronavirus fatalities. In New Hampshire, it’s 75 percent. The figure is 60 percent in Maryland, 40 percent in Texas, 40 percent in California, 55 percent in Kentucky, and 74 percent in Ohio. In just the past week alone, 90 percent of coronavirus deaths in Connecticut were nursing home residents. As of right now, the official figure is 25 percent in New York, but they just added 1,700 nursing home deaths to their tally yesterday. One wonders if there might be more surprise additions in the next few weeks. New York is certainly not going to be anxious to report their nursing home fatalities, given the disastrous policy that helped caused them.
The point is clear. The establishments that needed to be fully locked down, quarantined, and isolated, were nursing homes. Not bars, salons, bowling alleys, retail shops, or movie theaters. Even less did we need to shut down schools, as children are all but immune to the disease and extremely unlikely to contract or spread it. Least of all did we need to shut down beaches and parks, as the virus is susceptible to sunlight and doesn’t spread efficiently outdoors. Social distancing, masks, and basic hygiene could have mitigated the spread in most contexts and environments. It was nursing homes that needed the five alarm, DEFCON-1, shut-it-all-down treatment. Instead, New York intentionally sent infected people into the nursing homes, like a lit match in a shed full of dry wood and fireworks. And California, even now, is still bribing nursing homes to take COVID-positive people.
The governmental failures have been immense and catastrophic, and it will probably be many years before we understand just how immense and catastrophic. Our elected leaders destroyed our economy without sufficient justification, shut down the schools for no reason, and left our elderly exposed – or worse, intentionally put them in harm’s way. After this is over – whenever that might be – many heads should roll.