FOX19 (February 18)
Loved ones of long-term care residents in Kentucky will soon be able to visit them in person for the first time since the pandemic began. Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday restrictions against indoor visits at most long-term care facilities in Kentucky are being lifted. Indoor visitation will resume for residents who have been fully vaccinated.
Wall Street Journal (February 18)
Cases of Covid-19 in nursing homes continue to drop rapidly, according to federal data, in a sign that widespread vaccination in the facilities is starting to have an impact. According to data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the 5,672 reported coronavirus infections among nursing-home residents in the week ending Feb. 7 marked the seventh straight week of decline, from 33,601 in the week ending Dec. 20. The most recent number was sharply lower than the prior week, and it represented the lowest weekly case total yet reported in the federal data, which goes back to May. However, the latest week of federal data is consistently revised in later releases. The data is drawn from a survey of nursing homes. The number of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes also fell in the most recent week of data, to 2,054, the lowest total since the week that ended Nov. 1.
Long-Term Care Facilities Enticing New Residents With Promises Of COVID-19 Vaccinations.
NBC News (2/18) reports that in “the latest reminder that health care, even amid a global pandemic, is a commercial endeavor where some see opportunities to be seized,” some long-term care facilities are using their ability to vaccinate people “to attract new business.” Some senior living facilities are marketing access to vaccinations to recruit residents. However, Public Citizen Director of Health Research Dr. Michael Carome said, “I think it’s unethical.” He cited concerns that “attaching strings to a vaccine could coerce seniors, who are particularly vulnerable and desperate for vaccines, into signing a lease.”
Small Elderly Residential Care Homes Have A Difficult Time Getting COVID-19 Vaccines For Residents.
The Los Angeles Times (2/18, Chalmers) reports, “California’s effort to vaccinate people in residential care homes appears to have failed to reach many small facilities that are encountering problems making appointments for their residents.” The large number of small facilities “has complicated vaccine delivery, so too have the facilities’ informal structures that set them apart from larger assisted-living facilities.”
New York Assemblyman Says Governor Threatened His Career.
Politico (2/18, Payne) reports New York assemblyman Ron Kim (D) said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called him several times “asking him to lie [about COVID-19 nursing home deaths] and saying his career would be destroyed for speaking out.” An advisor from Cuomo’s office “said Kim was lying about the call.”
According to Forbes (2/18, McEvoy), in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said he believes Assemblyman Ron Kim, “who claimed [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo [D] threatened to ‘destroy’ his career after he publicly criticized his administration’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes.” De Blasio added, “The bullying is nothing new. ... The threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment...many, many times I’ve heard that.”
New York Republican Assembly Members Move To Form An Impeachment Commission To Investigate Governor.
The Washington Times (2/18, Richardson) reports that on Thursday, New York State Assembly Republicans “introduced a resolution to form an impeachment commission to gather evidence on...[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo’s [D] ‘handling and subsequent cover-up of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.’” Fourteen Senate Democrats joined them “in an effort to strip Mr. Cuomo of his emergency pandemic powers.”
The New York Post (2/18, Hogan, Musumeci, says, “Under the resolution, the committee would have a 60-day deadline to conduct its work and submit its findings and recommendations to the legislature on whether to impeach.”
Among other news outlets covering the story are Politico New York (2/18, Mahoney).
New York Governor Accused Of Threatening Assemblyman Who Criticized Him.
USA Today (2/17, Campbell) reports, “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo [D] launched into a heated criticism Wednesday of one of the most vocal critics of his COVID-19 nursing home policies, state assemblyman [Ron Kim (D)] who claims the governor threatened to ‘destroy’ him on a private phone call.”
The New York Times (2/17, Ferré-Sadurní, McKinley) says the governor “was angered and combative about a letter published by The New York Post that was signed by several Assembly members, including Mr. Kim.” The letter cited Cuomo’s “delays in releasing a complete tally of deaths of nursing home residents...[and] accused Mr. Cuomo of attempting to circumvent a federal probe and ‘intentional obstruction of justice.’”
According to CNN (2/17, Lee, Morales), Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said, “Kim’s assertion that the governor said he would ‘destroy him’ is false.”
FBI, US Attorney Investigating New York Governor’s Handling Of Nursing Homes During The COVID-19 Pandemic.
The New York Times (2/17, A1, McKinley, Ferré-Sadurní) reports, “The Democratic leaders of the New York State Senate are moving to strip Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of unilateral emergency powers granted during the pandemic, setting up a remarkable rebuke for the governor from members of his own party.” These proposals, “which could be voted on as soon as next week, underscore the deepening division between Mr. Cuomo and state lawmakers since the governor admitted to intentionally withholding critical data on virus-related deaths from the Legislature.” Meanwhile, it has “emerged that the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York had opened an inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.”
The New York Post (2/17, Garger, Celona, Hicks) reports this investigation “is examining the Cuomo administration’s actions relating to the nursing homes and other long-term care facilities after thousands of their residents died of COVID-19, according to two sources familiar with the matter.” According to The Times Union, the probe, for now, “is focusing on some senior members of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force.”
The AP (2/17, Balsamo, Villeneuve) reports “the U.S. Justice Department has been examining the governor’s coronavirus task force and trying to determine whether the state intentionally manipulated data regarding deaths in nursing homes, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.”
Opinion: New York Governor’s Actions Worse Than A Coverup.
In an opinion piece for the Washington Post (2/17), columnist Marc Thiessen says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “is under bipartisan fire after an aide admitted that his administration deliberately delayed releasing information showing the true extent of covid-19 deaths in New York nursing homes.” Thiessen argues, “Stonewalling the Justice Department is bad enough, but Cuomo did something even worse: His administration provided inaccurate data to public health officials.” He concludes, “Cuomo’s actions certainly merit his removal from office – not just for the coverup, but for the actions he took that impeded our national response to the worst pandemic in American history.”
In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal (2/17, Subscription Publication), Daniel Henninger expresses his dissatisfaction with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) management of the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses what life is like for New Yorkers.
Huffington Post (February 17)
While nursing homes answer to federal regulators, assisted living facilities are regulated by the states. Uneven rules and loopholes mean dangerous health situations are falling through the cracks.
Washington Post (February 17)
Fallout over New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s handling of nursing home coronavirus data worsened Wednesday as a critical state legislator — a fellow Democrat — accused the governor of threatening to “destroy” him during an angry call.