New York Faces Another COVID Scandal for Ordering Recovering Patients to Group Homes for Developmentally Disabled

New York has been rocked by COVID-19 scandals, ever since the state was put on “pause” a year ago, as Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a lockdown closing all “non-essential” businesses, gatherings and celebrations.

But a new scandal has just erupted in the Empire State. As the New York Post reported, “The Cuomo administration has spent the last year quietly allowing COVID-19 patients to return to homes for the disabled – much like it did with nursing homes – and the policy remains in effect.” The order affected vulnerable lives that Christians care about and that many in the world dismiss: the developmentally disabled.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), a Focus on the Family-affiliated organization, said the COVID-19 order remains in place and “continues to endanger the developmentally disabled.”

NYCF is a Christian organization that “exists for the purpose of influencing legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.” They and their partner organization, New Yorkers Family Research Foundation, work to protect human life, promote strong families, preserve religious liberty, and proclaim justice and mercy.   

Executive Director Jason McGuire told The Daily Citizen, “Much like Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home directive, the group home directive has needlessly endangered the lives of developmentally disabled New Yorkers.”

New York’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) sent out the order to group homes almost a year ago, April 10, 2020. It “clarifies expectations for Providers of all Residential Facilities.” Those expectations include the following order: “No individual shall be denied re-admission or admission to a Certified Residential Facility based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 (their emphasis).

“Additionally, providers of Certified Residential Facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized individual, who is determined medically stable, to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission,” the OPWDD stated.

The Post reported, “6,969 residents of group homes have tested positive for the coronavirus – about 20 percent of the total population of 34,551. Of those infected with the virus, 553 died.” The outlet said the New York Senate was looking into investigating the policy.

NYCF said that four state senators had written to request information about the directive to homes for the developmentally disabled. “After receiving a response from OPWDD, the four senators blasted that response and accused the agency of stonewalling them.” They then asked the Senate Investigations Committee to begin an inquiry into the order.

McGuire said, “It is maddening that nearly a year later, the Cuomo Administration has refused to correct its error and rescind this dangerous directive. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms encourages the Senate and Assembly majorities to recognize the urgency of this situation and pass legislation to force the Governor’s hesitant hand on this issue”.

The first New York COVID-related scandal began on March 25, 2020, when Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker and the governor signed an order requiring nursing homes to accept recovering coronavirus patients. That information was first made public on the Mark Levin Show, causing an outcry, as nursing home residents are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19, due to age and other health problems.

Eventually, the state’s Department of Health (DOH) rescinded the order. But the scandal grew, as Cuomo aides covered up the number of deaths in nursing homes, rewriting the reports to hide a higher death rate.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report earlier this year saying the DOH had undercounted nursing home deaths by up to 50%. The report said, “Government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.”

The governor also came under fire when it was recently discovered that members of his family, including CNN’s Chris Cuomo, received priority testing early in the pandemic, when available tests were limited. James said the reports were “troubling” and that it was “imperative” that the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics “look into it immediately.”

Related articles and resources:

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms – a 501(c)(4) organization which exists for the purpose of influencing legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.

New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation a 501(c)(3) organization that educates, encourages, and equips Christians for effective participation in New York State government.

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Call for Investigation into Gov. Cuomo’s Nursing Home Order

Janice Dean Says Gov. Cuomo Denial of Sending COVID-Positive Patients into Nursing Homes is ‘Mind-Blowing’

Mark Levin Exposes States’ Dangerous Practice of Sending Coronavirus Patients to Nursing Homes

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Order on Nursing Homes May Have Killed 14% of Population

Photo from Shutterstock

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