In the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone reports in part,
America’s governors have done a poor job of protecting those most at risk — residents of nursing homes, elderly people with physical frailties and, often, cognitive impairment.
One-third of reported coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to the New York Times’s reporting, are of nursing home residents or workers. And nursing homes accounted for a majority of deaths in heavily hit states, such as New Jersey (52%), Massachusetts (59%), Pennsylvania (66%), and Connecticut (55%), and for 80% of deaths in otherwise lightly hit Minnesota.
That percentage is much lower (20%) in America’s COVID-19 epicenter, New York, but the Empire State still leads the nation with 5,403 nursing home deaths — about 1 out of every 14 COVID-19 deaths in the entire country.
Why so many? On March 25, the state health commissioner ordered nursing homes to accept patients with the virus. It’s unclear why he made this fatal decision. Maybe he wanted to keep hospital beds available. Or maybe he feared that sick people would be dumped onto the street.
When asked about this policy in late April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo professed ignorance. Two weeks later, on Saturday, after 46 days in effect, he reversed it.
New York wasn’t the only state that insisted on placing infected patients in nursing homes. New Jersey’s policy was similar, explicitly barring homes from requiring testing before admitting patients. California had the same policy but dropped it after 10 days.
Other states, recognizing the dangers of infecting the vulnerable, required or encouraged nursing homes to set up separate units or staffs to handle patients testing positive. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely criticized in the national media for avoiding a total lockdown, zeroed in on nursing homes, encouraging repeated testing and temperature-taking of residents and staff and isolating anyone testing positive. Florida, a state with 2 million more people than New York, had just 714 nursing home deaths, 13% of the number in New York.
Read more here.
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