New York City mayor Bill De Blasio blamed profit-seeking nursing home owners for the horrific coronavirus outbreaks that have dogged New York care facilities, not a New York law that demanded nursing homes accommodate COVID-19 patients or risk the wrath of state officials.
De Blasio made the shocking suggestion in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday, in an attempt to explain why New York appears to have downplayed the situation in its long-term care facilities, potentially undercounting coronavirus-related nursing home deaths by nearly 1,700.
“A lot of these are for-profit organizations. I think there’s going to be a lot of questions about whether they put their residents first or whether they put profit first,” De Blasio said.
.@NYCMayor De Blasio on nursing homes: "A lot of these are for-profit organizations. I think there’s going to be a lot of questions about whether they put their residents first or whether they put profit first" pic.twitter.com/KfPZNAXH0d
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 6, 2020
The suggestion is nothing short of bizarre, particularly given that New York forced nursing homes to take ailing coronavirus patients, possibly while they were still contagious, likely sparking a number of deadly outbreaks among the state’s most vulnerable populations. Nursing home deaths make up 25% of New York coronavirus deaths overall, per current statistics, but given how little information New York has made available, the percentage could be much higher.
At least one nursing home told Business Insider that its previously coronavirus-free population was quickly infected after the facility was forced to take in two coronavirus patients. Reporting on the situation more than a month ago, the New York Times noted that more than a dozen nursing homes in New York state were suffering outbreaks of 25 cases or more.
Most facilities tried to cordon off those with COVID-19, but some facilities — particularly those that serve underprivileged populations and populations of color — quickly found themselves overwhelmed. In some cases, New York sent boxes of personal protective equipment with the patients, including body bags.
De Blasio also ignores that other states, with far larger nursing home populations, did better than New York at preventing coronavirus outbreaks in contained communities.
“States that have taken better precautions have seen far fewer nursing-home deaths,” the New York Post reported Wednesday. “With a nursing-home population of about 70 percent of New York’s, Florida has seen about 10 percent as many nursing-home deaths — albeit with far fewer COVID-19 deaths overall.”
It turns out, some simple differences are responsible for Florida’s significantly better results, per the Post: “‘Florida opted for a less-stringent lockdown than New York — but Gov. Ron DeSantis focused attention on nursing homes from the start, and has strengthened those protections as the state begins to reopen. No Sunshine State patient can be discharged from a hospital into a nursing home without a negative test result.”
New York is far from the only state dealing with nursing home outbreaks. In Illinois, nearly 50% of all coronavirus-related deaths have taken place in long-term care facilities. Although Minnesota has a much lower death count, nearly 60% of all coronavirus-related deaths there took place in adult care facilities.
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