Schumer Defends Cuomo Ordering Nursing Homes to Accept Coronavirus Patients Despite Reversal

May 19, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Tuesday defended New York governor Andrew Cuomo's (D.) controversial order requiring nursing homes to admit coronavirus-infected patients despite Cuomo's reversal of the decision last week.

"I think the governor and [Mayor Bill de Blasio], frankly, have handled things very well," Schumer said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "We've been the epicenter of the crisis with so much going on and the issues of hospitals and nursing homes were very hard to manage. I think they managed it well."

Despite an increasing coronavirus death toll in New York nursing homes—over 5,500 nursing home residents have died from the virus in the state—Schumer said he supported Cuomo's handling of the issue.

"I think our governor has handled it well," Schumer said. "I don't have any dispute with what he has done."

Although New York reversed the order on May 10, Schumer said the government could not predict at the time whether hospitals would be overloaded with patients.

Cuomo emphasized the importance of maintaining social distancing and said he would not put the "elderly at risk to boost the economy" on March 24. The next day, the New York State Department of Health said nursing homes could not refuse individuals with coronavirus who were medically stable.

The CDC in early March had warned that older adults were at high risk of becoming ill or dying from the virus and urged nursing homes to restrict visits.

In response to the nursing home deaths, Cuomo on Wednesday said, "We did everything we could."

"As a society, you can't save everyone. You're going to lose people, that's life," Cuomo said.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into New York's nursing home crisis, which has accounted for roughly 20 percent of the state's coronavirus deaths.