In recent days, the New York state epidemiologist announced that she was leaving her post. It’s another in a series of high-profile health department resignations over the leadership of Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo. This is after the governor, in near daily news conferences, touted his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by The New York Times, Cuomo has essentially “declared war on his own public health bureaucracy” and many within the State Department of Health are reportedly feeling “sidelined and treated disrespectfully” over the state’s vaccination rollout.
According to reports, Gov. Cuomo ignored a plan previously set in place by health officials over several years ago that would help distribute the vaccinations, and, instead, “has relied on large hospital systems to coordinate vaccinations not only to their own staffs, but also of much of the population.”
He’s also been keen to take further control over the vaccine rollout from health officials, arguing that the medical professionals “had no understanding of how to conduct a real-world, large-scale operation like vaccinations.”
“When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday, referring to scientific expertise at all levels of government during the pandemic. “Because I don’t. Because I don’t.”
It’s unclear how the law degree Cuomo holds confers expertise in medicine, science or epidemiology, but it does have “doctorate” in it.
Needless to say, health care officials have not taken kindly to his words and many in top level positions have left.
The commissioner for public health for the state resigned in the late summer. The director of the bureau of communicable diseases left shortly after and was later joined by the medical director of epidemiology. There are rumors that additional resignations are in the offing.
Gov. Cuomo has also introduced new changes in health care policy at his infamous press conferences, without coordinating or discussing the updates with medical officials.
In the early months of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo came under scrutiny after it emerged that a state directive required nursing home facilities to take in recovering COVID positive patients, exposing tens of thousands of vulnerable elderly residents to the disease. It’s now been revealed that the counting of nursing home COVID related deaths may be off by as much as 40% to 50%, as the state often counted those that contracted the disease in a nursing home but later died in a hospital as a hospital death, not a nursing home death.
Cuomo continues to deflect his responsibility for the policy.
“We’ve seen the governor prioritize his ego over the best interests of New Yorkers time and time again,” Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) said on Monday. “As far as I’m concerned, for the entirety of the pandemic, this executive has been really less than interested in working collaboratively to figure out what will best keep New Yorkers safe.”
There have been suggestions that Janice Dean, senior meteorologist at Fox News, should run for governor against Cuomo in 2022. Dean has been passionately outspoken about her frustration with the governor after her father- and mother-in-law died within about two weeks of each other due to the state’s COVID nursing home policy.
As New York State continues to struggle with its COVID response, interest in Dean’s potential campaign is already high.
“I am still with Fox for now by contract agreement. But listen, you never say never in this life, right? And many people have gotten into government because something personal has happened to them,” she said on a recent call with GOP activists and donors.
Photo from POOL/REUTERS