Around 5,600 people are believed to have died from the coronavirus in nursing homes across the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, continued to defend the state’s handling of nursing homes throughout this pandemic, blaming President Trump’s CDC guidelines that allowed COVID positive patients to be admitted into nursing homes.
"Anyone who wants to ask why the state did that with COVID patients in nursing homes, it's because the state followed President Trump's CDC's guidance,” Governor Cuomo said during his daily press briefing. “So they should ask President Trump."
This statewide directive by the Health Department was not rescinded until over a month later.
The state now is pushing to have nursing home staff tested twice a week and nursing home residents tested statewide.
However, this means around 90,000 tests per day would be needed, placing a huge strain on the testing system
“Problem with the rollout though, the testing capacity doesn’t exist,” James Clyne, President of Leading Age NY explained. “Many of our members have been asking to test their staff and have been denied testing kits.”
On a group press conference, nursing home and adult care facility leaders explained the challenges of trying to test this many people on a daily basis.
State officials say they have now partnered facilities with labs to expedite testing results, but nursing home leaders say they have their doubts.
“That two time a week testing? It’s just not clear that the labs have the capacity to do that testing,” Clyne emphasized.
“We want that focus and energy that the Governor has done so well with the hospitals to be transferred pointing at the long term care system,” Bill Ferris, the New York Legislative Representative for AARP said.
Other issues brought up was the lack of communication between facilities and families, a clear way to get tests to seniors living at home and protections needed for nursing home staff.
“We want to make sure that burden of that testing in terms of cost is not shifted onto the workers or on their health insurance,” Helen Schaub, NYS Director of Policy and Legislation for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said. “People are paid if they are not allowed to work because they have a positive test and also that the homes are prepared. If they are doing a big wave of testing you could see a situation where 20% of the workers can no longer work and that could create a huge staffing crisis for the residents. “
Both state and federal lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into the state’s handling of nursing homes.