Issues & Insights
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Miguel Pena

Cuomo’s COVID-19 Panic Killed Thousands In Nursing Homes

I&I Editorial

In New York, 5% of the seniors living in nursing homes have died from COVID-19. In Florida, the disease has claimed less than 0.6% of those in nursing homes. What explains the vast difference in death rates among this vulnerable population? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo panicked about COVID-19, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did not.

Over the weekend, Democrat Cuomo announced that nursing homes would no longer have to accept patients discharged from hospitals who were COVID-19 positive. Which leads to a question: Why in the world were they required to do so before?

The reason was that Cuomo was panicked about hospitals being overrun. So to clear beds, he told nursing homes that they had to take the elderly, whether or not they had COVID-19.

To be precise, the health department’s order read that nursing homes “are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”

New York’s March 25 directive was immediately condemned by the American Health Care Association, the Society for Post-Acute Long-Term Care Medicine and the National Center for Assisted Living, who issued a joint statement calling it “a short-term and short-sighted solution that will only add to the surge in COVID-19 patients that require hospital care.” 

New York wasn’t the only state to issue such orders. California did, but then quickly reversed itself. Pennsylvania did, too. More than 2,300 nursing home residents have died in the Keystone State — accounting for 70% of the its total deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

New Jersey followed New York’s lead, with Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli issuing an edict on March 31, declaring that: “No patient/resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the post-acute care setting solely based on a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 … Post-acute care facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized patient/resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.” (The underlining was in the original, which you can read here.)

Persichilli cited the “urgent need to expand hospital capacity” as the reason for the order.

To date, more than 10% of New Jersey’s nursing home residents have died of the disease, representing 53% of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths.

Now consider Florida.

Early on, Republican DeSantis came under harsh attack for not being panicked enough by the outbreak. The press ran headlines like:

  • “Florida’s slow response: a ‘mini-Trump’ governor who borrowed the president’s playbook”
  • “DeSantis gambles on less aggressive response to COVID-19, refuses statewide stay-at-home order”
  • “Florida governor takes heat for state’s slow response to coronavirus crisis”
  • “Critics hit Florida governor over lack of ‘sweeping’ coronavirus response”

The New York Times huffed on March 18 that “faced with the prospect of dealing a shattering blow to an $86 billion tourism industry, Gov. Ron DeSantis has moved more slowly than some other states to contain a pandemic that is spreading with alarming speed.”

Joe Biden joined the attack, blasting DeSantis for not taking “strong, urgent, and sweeping action.”

The Miami Herald, in an editorial, told DeSantis to “Act like you give a damn.”

What DeSantis did do, however, was better protect his state’s most vulnerable population. In March, the state started to randomly test staff and residents at nursing homes for the virus. In mid-April, he dispatched the National Guard to nursing homes to test residents and staff for the virus. It didn’t require nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor, described how one nursing home handles the disease: Staff members are screened daily prior to entering the building; they are required to wear personal protection equipment; and patients who test positive for coronavirus are frequently transferred to a nearly medical center, where they stay until they are disease free.

“New York state had the opposite policy,” Siegel noted, “until Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed course Sunday.”

Is it surprising then that more than 5,200 New Yorkers have died in nursing homes compared with only 423 in Florida?

Also of interest, the six states with the most nursing home deaths are all liberal or run by Democrats — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois. Had these states managed to keep their nursing home death rates at Florida’s 0.6%, there would have been 15,000 fewer COVID-19 deaths.

As Michael Fumento put it in these pages, panic in a pandemic is never a good policy. In this case, it was downright deadly.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board.

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Cuomo should be tried in the International Criminal Court for Mass Murder and Genocide! Deliberately exposing the elderly to the Cuomovirus is like the Nazi T4 program. Cuomo murdered them to help the State of New York avoid paying for their long term care and then taking that money and using it to meet the State’s pension obligations. Cuomo is a cold-blooded, mass murderin’ monster! He’ll probably leap into his grave laughing about it!

  • These deaths lie squarely at the feet of Fauci and Birx as they relied on faulty models. No apologist for Coumo, but he panicked, light so many others, thinking all hell was going to break loose. Of course it did not, and as a result, many unnecessary death was the result.

    • Wake up Milton. The governor could have corrected his terrible policy within days. Even a 5 year old would know better than to put infected people in a nursing home. The governor is a murder, period!

    • My understanding is that more than one nursing home was begging Albany to permit them to transfer patients to the hospital ship and/or the Javits Center field hospital, neither of which were used for their intended purpose.

  • I called the NYS governor every other day for weeks, no reply. I called the health commissioner every other day for weeks, no reply, I called the NYS AG every other day and asked to have the governor arrested for mass murder, no reply. I called the Suffolk County Executive every other day for weeks, no reply. And to make things worse, we all had to watch as the governor made believe that he was doing a good job. Bottom line, the governor and the mayor should have immediately quarantined Little Italy and Chinatown. Then all of Manhattan Island. Then the subway and the LIRR. Then the airports to prevent the virus from spreading across the country. Most importantly, the governor is directly and solely responsible for 5 thousand plus murders of innocent nursing home residents.

  • Do you think Cuomo feels any remorse? I guarantee you he doesn’t. Democrats have no conscience because it’s always “everybody else’s fault”! He pontificates on TV from his throne, showing how pompous he is. Reminds me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

  • It’s okay. Big Brother always knows what’s best for you – better than even you yourself. Give him your freedoms, and let him make all your decisions, it’s for the best.

  • Cuomo went from NY know-it-all to groveling pip-squeak within 2 weeks. Save us!


  • It appears that there is more than one epidemic infecting us nowadays: Novel coronavirus is one scourge; the 2nd scourge is Governors who wish to flex their gauleiter muscles
    Now it appears that the 1st scourge is made worse by the 2nd scourge-especially when practiced by a Democratic Governor in a Blue State.

  • I note you omitted part of the quote that did not agree with your narrative:

    ‘Persons under investigation for COVID-19 who have undergone testing in the hospital shall not be discharged until results are available.’

    It seems to me also that the onus was on the discharging hospital’s physician to approve the move based on the patient’s condition.

    It seems to me that you are cherry picking parts to suit your narrative.

    Just saying.

  • Give us data that cannot be attacked so easily by the media. We need to expose the absurdity of politicians like Cuomo, but this data can easily be shown to be missing key data that may refute your conclusion. Instead of, or in addition to, give us the number of nursing home patients in New York relative to Florida. And then take into account what percentage of New Yorkers have COVID-19. Since NY and Florida have roughly the same population size, then total numbers are good, if the percentage of COVID patients were the same. But NY has 8 times more cases in general, so we would expect 8 times more deaths. So will your 5% versus 0.6% really stand out? 8 times 0.6 = 4.8%. Please do a better job reporting.

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