It’s a tale of two governors–one that mishandled things from the get-go and one that considered the threat and took reasonable precautions.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo(D) was called “Presidential” despite his disastrous pandemic policies including putting the most vulnerable population in nursing homes at risk while pundits said that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis(R) had “blood on his hands” for not shutting down beaches immediately.
Now that the dust has settled and the initial panic is over, it has become clear that the Florida governor handled the pandemic correctly and the New York governor completely bungled things which only expedited deaths in his state.
Before the disastrous policies on nursing homes were exposed, Governor Cuomo was enjoying record high favorability. On May 1, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote that he might be “the single most popular politician in America.” Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis had his approval rating drop in April as the news networks and Democrats shouted that there was “blood on his hands.”
Governor Ron DeSantis was a punching bag for the Media(D) and Democrats pushing pandemic panic porn.
Governor Andrew Cuomo even got in on the act by mocking Spring Breakers–some of whom were from his state–for being on Florida beaches during a pandemic.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 19, 2020
This was just days before Governor Cuomo issued his disastrous March 25 policy to force nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients which he allowed to continue for 6 weeks despite pleas by staff members and families to end the order. That order is now being memory-holed.
What was DeSantis doing? Well, all the way back in February, the Florida Department of Health issued protocols for nursing homes to prepare for a possible pandemic. In an article meant to lambast Governor DeSantis, the Miami Herald journo was very upset that the state did not create panic when only a handful of positive COVID cases were on record, but instead was working behind the scenes monitoring possible cases and preparing to purchase a stockpile of PPE in case the number of cases exploded.
Samantha Cooksey, coordinator for DOH’s COVID-19 response team, also sent an email to the Florida Health Care Association, an industry group of assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Florida, spelling out guidelines for “pandemic planning.”
“Older populations and people with underlying health issues appear to be at increased risk for this virus,” Cooksey wrote on Feb. 20, providing a checklist of protocols including limiting visitors and isolating symptomatic residents. “We believe it is important that long-term care facilities begin planning now and ensuring they have protocols in place for a pandemic scenario.“ (More than 900 residents and staff of such facilities have since died as a result of the disease.)
State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees would not declare a public health emergency until DeSantis directed him to do so on March 1. The emergency gave the department more authority, resources and flexibility to reassign staff.
Source: Miami Herald (Emphasis Added)
Florida declared a public health emergency on March 1, but New York didn’t do the same until March 7.
But the quick response to the threat of a pandemic wasn’t the only difference–when nursing homes were begging for PPE, Cuomo said, “That’s not our job.” DeSantis, on the other hand, provided almost 7 million masks, almost a million gloves, half a million face shields, and 160,000 gowns to the nursing facilities in Florida.
As we reported earlier, Cuomo didn’t just send thousands of COVID-positive patients into nursing homes (sometimes with body bags,) he also permitted COVID-positive employees to continue to work with COVID patients despite the likelihood of shedding the virus to a vulnerable population.
DeSantis, on the other hand, had nursing home employees screened for temperature and required wearing PPE such as masks. Additionally, DeSantis created 120 “ambulatory assessment teams” to visit 3,800 long-term care facilities to find any deficiencies and prepare them for a pandemic.
Critically, DeSantis immediately prohibited hospitals from sending COVID-positive patients to nursing homes.
…DeSantis prohibited Florida hospitals from discharging patients with the disease to the state’s 4,400 long-term care facilities, which are home to 150,000 residents and employ 200,000 people.
That policy, he said, is one of the key reasons an average of only two elder-care residents per 100,000 people have died in Florida since the pandemic began in mid-March. The actual number is 3.5 per 100,000.
Source: Palm Beach Times
In New York, residents were told that they needed to “flatten the curve” to not overwhelm the hospitals. The Javits Center was converted into a makeshift hospital with 3,000 beds and the USNS Comfort was deployed able to care for an additional 1,000 patients. The hospitals were never overwhelmed, however, and both of those facilities were largely unused. When nursing homes begged to send patients there, the state government said no.
The result was that over 5,400 deaths in New York nursing homes versus just over 700 in Florida facilities. And, although we know that Cuomo’s team is cooking the books on the numbers, the reported infection rate is comparable–at the time of writing, New York is sitting at 5,637 cases and Florida has 5,573. This is despite Florida having a significantly older population than New York. The actual numbers in New York, believed to be twice what is reported, is even more damning for Cuomo.
In a stunning opinion piece in Newsweek, Jonathan Tobin noted that while DeSantis has been cast as a pandemic villain and Cuomo as the COVID hero, their records show that the reverse is actually true.
The pandemic policies followed by Florida have been proven correct, while New York’s were a disaster. But the mainstream media hasn’t noticed.
Few politicians have had their public profiles enhanced by a crisis as much as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s was by the coronavirus pandemic. By the same token, few have absorbed as much abuse for their crisis management as has Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Tobin says that Cuomo should forever be linked to the spread of the virus against the most vulnerable. It isn’t just “nature” as Cuomo has claimed.
Cuomo’s legacy should forever be tarnished by a New York State Health Department order that mandated that nursing homes could not refuse admittance to recovering coronavirus patients. Despite protests from administrators and the families of residents, as late as April 25—several weeks into the crisis—Cuomo was still publicly insisting that the order be enforced. It would not be until six weeks after it was first issued that Cuomo rescinded the rule.
The more than 5,600 nursing home deaths in New York are a significant portion of the over 23,000 people that have died in New York–and those deaths in long-term care facilities can be directly linked to Cuomo’s policy.
According to NY Times data on nursing homes, the states where "new cases are increasing" have the highest share of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 (52% vs 35%).
Yet we continue to focus on beach activity and blanket lockdowns as opposed to protecting those in nursing homes.
— James Todaro, MD (@JamesTodaroMD) May 20, 2020
Despite the predictions of doom about DeSantis’ decisions, the impact of the pandemic on Florida has been relatively light, especially when one considers the heavy concentration of elderly retirees in the state. As of this writing, only 2,382 people have died in Florida, which stands in contrast to the man-made disaster in New York.
DeSantis issued orders to ensure that his state’s nursing homes were not inundated with coronavirus patients. In fact, he worked to get them out of the homes rather than turning them into virus hotspots, as Cuomo did.
While the national media obsessed about open Florida beaches, DeSantis seemed to understand that they posed little or no threat to those most at risk from the disease. His approach appears to have been far more rooted in the facts about the disease than did Cuomo’s approach, despite the claim that Republicans don’t believe in science.
Tobin poses the question, “Why, then, has the national media continued to extol Cuomo while the same outlets that lambasted DeSantis for his supposed mismanagement have moved on to other stories without correcting the record?”
He answers with one word: Politics.
No wonder DeSantis went off on the Media(D) in such a spectacular way for the way Florida has been covered in the partisan press.
In case you missed it, watch it here:
Simply put, DeSantis is close to Trump and the lefties don’t like that one bit.
So, as “Grandma Killer” Cuomo is now trying to shift the blame by saying he was just following the CDC guidelines and lashing out at the New York Post for reporting on his disastrous policies, he’s still getting great press (except at the Post) as well as some celebrity endorsements and DeSantis is still a punching bag.
Every now and then you’ll see an op-ed in a mainstream publication that blasts Cuomo and, just like this article, they compare his panicked response to DeSantis’s reasoned and controlled one.
DeSantis deserves an apology and Cuomo deserves condemnation, but it’s unlikely that that’s going to happen while the mainstream press still carries water for the Democrats.
But now, you know the truth, and you can spread the truth.