ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded Wednesday to criticism over how the state has handled nursing homes during the pandemic.

Much of the controversy is over a state order in March that allowed patients that tested positive for the coronavirus back into nursing homes. It’s since been modified, but the Governor maintained that the state was following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines at the time. 

“The state followed President Trump’s CDC’s guidance. Okay, that’s that answer,” he said.

The Governor said that CDC guidance said nursing homes should not be allowed to discriminate against a patient with the coronavirus. He said a big issue in March was hospital capacity, and he said nursing homes shouldn’t accept patients they’re not qualified to handle. 

“For a COVID patient, a nursing home must say ‘I can quarantine; I can isolate; I have the right staff; I have the right PPE; or else that nursing home should not take that patient,” he said.

Earlier in the month of May, the state changed its policy saying that hospitals now cannot release a patient back to a nursing home unless that person tests negative for COVID-19. Nursing home deaths have accounted for roughly one-fourth of COVID deaths in the state. 

Some Upstate representatives, like Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, have called for a federal probe into the issue. 

“I do think it’s important to have an independent investigation to provide answers to those families who have lost loved ones and are truly heartbroken,” she said. 

“If the federal government wants to start a probe, then they can start a probe,” the Governor said.

Currently, visitors are still barred from coming into nursing homes except for end-of-life visits. 

The latest numbers of Coronavirus deaths in NYS nursing homes can be found here.