Grieving families in New York State are frustrated by recent comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who denied that he ever allowed hospitals to send 6,326 COVID-positive patients to nursing homes.
Janice Dean, senior meteorologist at Fox News, lost both of her in-laws to COVID-19 in early 2020. It wasn’t until later that she and other families found out that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had issued an executive order allowing COVID-positive patients into nursing homes with healthy patients, which led to an epidemic of the coronavirus among the elderly in the state. Now, the governor is denying all culpability. He even scrubbed the order from the state’s website.
In a Wednesday radio interview with Finger Lakes News, Gov. Cuomo, said, “We never needed nursing home beds because we always had hospital beds. So, it just never happened in New York where we needed to say to a nursing home, ‘We need you to take this person even though they’re COVID-positive.’ It never happened.”
“I feel like we’re living in this alternate universe,” Dean said in an interview with The Daily Citizen. “It’s one thing for him to blame everyone else, which is what he’s been doing for the past few months. He’s blamed everyone from God to mother nature, the president, the CDC, and at one point he blamed the (nursing home) visitors, which to me is a complete lie because we were never able to visit our loved ones.”
“For him to deny all of that is mind-blowing to me,” Dean said. “It makes our grief even worse—it prolongs the grief and anger. To have this elected official that is supposed to be in charge of our state and in charge of helping us and our loved ones. For him to pretend it never happened is heartbreaking.”
Dean and others who had family members in local nursing homes want answers. It’s not about politics, but about holding government authority figures accountable for their decisions.
“I never, ever thought I would be in this position in my lifetime,” Dean said. “I’ve never been a political person. I’ve always been the weather person on Fox and I’ve always said the red and blue I see on the map is a high pressure and a low pressure. No one knows who I voted for, and I would like to keep it that way.”
“But when it happens to you personally, and you don’t see the questions being asked or the people being held accountable for their actions. That’s when I thought, ‘Well I do have a platform and, with permission from Fox, I want to use this platform to tell my story.’ This is not about politics. It’s very personal to me, and it should be a bipartisan subject, because our loved ones voted for both Democrats and Republicans. It’s about getting answers for our loved ones who can no longer speak for themselves.”
Through her activism, Dean has been able to engage and receive support from other people who’ve lost family members during COVID.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m alone, shouting as hard as I can on social media. But when you gather with people who have gone through this exact same thing, there is something very comforting about that. We share in each other’s grief, there’s always a lot of tears, but afterwards we always realize that our message is pure, we just want accountability. It’s frustrating when the people we are looking to for answers, our leaders, they’re not giving them. In fact, they’re absolving themselves of any accountability, which is just so frustrating.”
“Yesterday, him completely washing away everything, and saying, it never happened. Basically, your relatives never died. I would have loved for that to happen. Would you like to erase the fact that they’re dead, because we can’t bring them back?”
Thankfully, not only are authorities in New York investigating, but there is interest in the Department of Justice about the nursing home deaths as well. Dean recently testified to the House Ways and Means Committee and in Albany, New York, to the state legislators.
“Little by little, hopefully we’re doing something,” Dean said. “I have a lot of good relationships with a lot of lawmakers now. Both sides would like a bipartisan investigation with subpoena powers. As much as I appreciate those lawmakers, I need more of them. This is a huge battle.”
But as all this goes on, it doesn’t make the grief any easier.
“It’s still difficult,” Dean shared. “Just this morning my husband was getting ready for work and he said, ‘I still feel like I have to call my mom.’ He called her every single day. It doesn’t go away. You go on with your lives, you have to take care of your children and your family, but sometimes the grieving doesn’t get any easier and it doesn’t get any easier with these loose strands.”
Photo from REUTERS
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