New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial March directive that forced hospitals to take coronavirus patients has been quietly removed from the New York Health Department website. As reported by Fox News, the removal comes as the governor publicly claims the order remains in effect.
The page that contained the order now directs to a page that claims the file is “not found” and “may have moved.” According to Fox News, the deletion occurred after May 5, which is around the time Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic began to face scrutiny.
The order can be found on the copy of the page that is available on the Internet archive site Wayback Machine.
“No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs [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.”
The nursing home deaths in New York, which leads the nation in this metric, has led to a backlash from Republican lawmakers, who have called for an investigation into Cuomo’s handling of the situation. Others, such as Jim Clyne, president and CEO of LeadingAge New York, suggested that the lack of personal protective equipment he saw in the nonprofit nursing homes he represents was not necessarily reflective of state leadership problems.
Cuomo has attempted to push the blame for the deaths onto Donald Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the governor, he was simply following the guidance provided by the federal agency.
“What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do,” Cuomo said during a press conference on Saturday. “That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”
The wiping of the state health website comes amid reporting in The Guardian from David Sirota, the 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign’s senior adviser and speechwriter, which notes that Cuomo provided immunity to nursing home executives from the threat of lawsuits linked to the COVID-19 outbreak. As highlighted by Sirota, the decision came after the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) donated over $1 million into a Democratic committee that supported the governor’s campaign.
Sirota spoke to legal experts who allegedly claimed that Cuomo’s provision — which was included in an annual budget bill — is one of the “most explicit immunity protections for healthcare industry officials” in the United States.