In reply to Ms. Goncalves’ response to my letter (“Cuomo needs investigating, not praise,” Daily Independent, July 7, 2020), I sadly concede the tragedy of thousands of nursing home deaths in New York State, concentrated around the dense population centers of New York City.
The point I was making is that, in clear contrast to the lack of leadership and downplaying of the virus’ seriousness from the White House, Governor Cuomo got out in front and closed down the largest city on the East Coast.
The procedures followed at nursing homes were consistent with the federal mandate at the time: Hospitals could not hold people who had recovered from coronavirus, but could only send them back to their nursing homes.
Medical experts have since concluded that the spike in fatalities may have been largely attributable to lack of safety equipment for caregivers. The number of 11,000 to 12,000 nursing home deaths was a national total at the time, representing about 25% of all fatalities.
The end result is, however, is clear: As of today, New York has tested approximately 5.3 million people, of which 408,000 have tested positive, with a total of 25,000 fatalities, out of a total population of 25 million.
The most important statistic, however, is that the percentage of positives is down — way down: Of the 67,000 people tested on July 22 alone, 705 tested positive, compared with their worst day on April 14, when 11,571 positives came back from 28,869 tests, according to state officials.
The point is, the governor’s actions turned their curve markedly downward, and it has stayed there. He didn’t sit around fantasizing that COVID-19 was just another flu.
Yes, the situation should absolutely be investigated. The conditions in some of the affected nursing homes left much to be desired, especially in those funded largely by Medicaid, which disproportionately impacted people of color.
My father is in an assisted living facility here in Surprise, and I am very grateful to our administrator who locked the facility down early and stuck to the rules in order to protect her residents and staff. When a few residents were found to be “cheating” and engaging in unsafe practices, she clamped down hard. They have a zero infection rate and intend to keep it that way.
There is an old saying, “The fish stinks from the head.”
Our national leadership has failed us miserably by setting an example not based on science, but on something like “I know better.” A lot of state and local officials fell in line, not requiring masks or stay-at-home orders until it was too late, and their followers aped their behavior, because it’s so easy to simply do nothing.
That’s why I stand by my opinion that we have poor leadership; they’re even on the same sign together. There is a lot of praise being given to South Korea, who got very quick control over their situation and avoided a catastrophe, but even there, the head of their equivalent CDC had to fight hard with government officials to convince them of the seriousness of this particular pathogen, even when there were “only” 25 people infected.
To their credit, their government leaders — all of whom took high school biology — believed their scientists and acted accordingly.
We were ill-prepared for this pandemic. It’s going to get worse again once children are forced to go back to school this fall. I really feel for our families and our teachers.