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COVID-19: Critics Call Out Cuomo For Not 'Blowing Bugle' Earlier, Nursing Home Outbreaks

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets tested for COVID-19 during his daily news briefing on Sunday, May 17. The test came back negative, Cuomo said on Monday, May 18.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets tested for COVID-19 during his daily news briefing on Sunday, May 17. The test came back negative, Cuomo said on Monday, May 18. Photo Credit:

While he has become one of the most recognizable faces in the worldwide fight against novel coronavirus (COVID-19), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has drawn the ire of some critics for his handling of the virus, namely in nursing homes.

Last month, Cuomo called out major news outlets and international health organizations for not “blowing the bugle” on the impact the virus could have on New York and the country as it quickly spread from China and Europe.

“Everybody knew the virus was in China, and China says 'don’t worry,' but all you need is one person to get on a plane,” Cuomo previously said. “As it happens, one person went on a plane from China to Europe, then from Europe to us. We got it through Europe, but where was the whole international health community?

“Governors don’t do global pandemics,” he added. “Where was the New York Times? The Wall Street Journal? Where were the bugle blowers who should say ‘be careful, there’s a virus in china that could come to the U.S.?’”

Cuomo added, “In this system, who is supposed to blow the bugle and didn’t? Because I would bank that this happens again, and is the same thing going to happen again? We have to figure these things out.”

However, according to reports, The New York Times wrote more than 400 stories before the pandemic became national news in early March, while the World Health Organization called COVID-19 a public health emergency in January, and the CDC warned to prepare for the virus in February.

In a Business Insider opinion piece, author Anthony Fisher was critical of Cuomo, saying that “New York was not fully coordinated, nor was it fully mobilized.”

“Testing was slow. Nonprofit social-service agencies that serve the most vulnerable couldn't get answers either. And medical experts like the former CDC director Tom Frieden said ‘so many deaths could have been prevented’ had New York issued its stay-at-home order just "days earlier" than it did.”

In an interview with Axios, Cuomo has admitted that he wishes he or someone else had “blown the bugle” when it comes to the dangers of the virus.

"I wish someone stood up and blew the bugle,” he said. “And if no one was going to blow the bugle, I would feel much better if I was a bugle blower last December and January. ... I would feel better sitting here today saying, 'I blew the bugle about Wuhan province in January.' I can't say that.”

Cuomo has also drawn criticism for the state-mandate - which has recently been adjusted - that required nursing homes to admit suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, March 25, Cuomo mandated that nursing homes couldn't deny admission or readmission "based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19." It also forbade nursing homes from requiring COVID-19 testing of incoming hospital transfers. Since then, Cuomo has reversed course, and now all nursing home employees are tested multiple times each week for the virus.

On Sunday, May 10, Cuomo announced that hospitals would no longer be allowed to release patients to nursing homes unless they had tested negative for COVID-19, undoing a key element of the March 25 directive.

“We're just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. Period,” he said.

There have been 2,388 confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in New York nursing homes since the outbreak began.

"He's unwilling to say there's anything they did that was wrong, and he doesn't seem willing to learn from his mistakes," Assemblyman Ron Kim said. "We're all learning as we go with this, and the governor is allowed to make mistakes. But not being able to recognize mistakes so we don't repeat them in a possible second wave of the pandemic is dangerous."

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