My mother, Joan Morris, died of Covid-19 that she contracted in a nursing home in Brooklyn, NY. She arrived there on January 24, 2020. In the week of April 5th, she developed symptoms of Covid. She was rushed to hospital on April 10th, diagnosed with Covid on April 11th, and died on April 17th.
Last month, the state admitted that 12,743 people who were contracted in nursing homes died from Covid because they were inexplicably put at risk by admitting new residents who were Covid positive.
My mother’s death was completely preventable. She had a treatable disease (a broken vertebra) along with a pre-existing disease (advanced emphysema), and she would be alive today if Governor Andrew Cuomo failed to comply with the nursing home orders to admit Covid patients – which he did despite availability of thousands of beds in the empty Javits Convention Center, the largely unused Central Park Field Hospital, and the unused federal hospital ship USNS Comfort, which was stationed in New York throughout April. According to media reports, Mr. Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker have undercounted, concealed and suppressed the death toll in nursing homes.
My mother shouldn’t be a mere statistic on a dubious government chart. If there is no meaningful accountability, the people whom Mr. Cuomo once referred to as the “most precious” in our church have died in vain. Families deserve to know the truth. Prosecutors and federal prosecutors should open an investigation to determine whether Mr Cuomo’s response to Covid-19 was criminally negligent or violated laws against elder abuse.
Surely it was an unprecedented public policy disaster. Rather than owning its flaws in judgment, the Cuomo government urged lawmakers to pass a measure that protects nursing homes from civil liability. This was de facto a grant of immunity to Mr Cuomo’s political decision as lawsuits revealed the real figures. The immunity was reduced by another law in August but was supposed to be lifted completely.