This past March, as the threat of COVID-19 intensified, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo employed poignant rhetorical imagery in indicating that he intended to err on the side of caution. “My mother,” he intoned, “is not expendable. And your mother is not expendable.” He went so far as to name a temporary stay-at-home quarantine order after his 89-year-old mother (a great lady). He called it “Matilda’s Law.”
But it was all a sham. It seemed that while he wanted to protect his mother, others would not be so lucky. Just days later the governor pivoted: Cuomo announced that New York state nursing homes were required to readmit patients that had been sent to hospitals because they were infected with the coronavirus. Moreover, under the March 25 order, nursing homes weren’t allowed to test incoming patients for COVID-19.
Nursing home workers and family members of the patients were alarmed, to say the least. Just as they feared, the new virus spread like wildfire among the vulnerable nursing home population. It killed nursing home workers, too. Nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts had similar but safer policies, such that COVID-19 patients were confined to facilities for the infected.
Fred Siegel is a Scholar in Residence at St. Francis College and a Contributing Editor of The Manhattan Institute's City Journal.
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