NEW YORK STATE (AP/NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to criticism about his nursing home policies on Saturday. Over 4,500 recovering coronavirus patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped amid criticisms it was possibly accelerating the outbreaks.

That’s according to an Associated Press tally conducted after the state declined to release its own survey. Nursing homes later became hotbeds of infection.

Whatever the full number, the March 25 order requiring nursing homes to take recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals has become a thorny political issue for Gov. Cuomo, who abruptly reversed the policy May 10, saying patients who are COVID-19 positive cannot be discharged to nursing homes.

Cuomo says the state was trying to follow the best federal guidance at the time.

“What New York did was follow what the Republican administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. That’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”


New York leads the nation in nursing home deaths with about 5,700.

This count comes in time for Memorial Day Weekend, when, statewide, people will hold a vigil for hard-hit nursing homes.

Teena Willard, who lives at Albany Shaker Place Rehabilitation Center, spoke about her gratitude for people coming out to support her.

“It feels really good, because you feel—when you’re in the room all by yourself—you feel lonely. You feel like nobody cares. It makes me feel good that they’re out there trying to fight for us”

Teena Willard

Members of New York Caring Majority and Adapt Capital Region, who organized the event, say the purpose of the vigil is honoring and valuing the lives of the residents.

“We want to bring attention to the fact that disabled people are being put in a severely difficult situation in nursing facilities, where we are exposed to contagion and we are not able to be safe.”

Katy Caroll
Organizer with adapt capital REgion

They are lighting candles to say that no one is forgotten, and to call on the government to value the lives of residents, workers, seniors, and people with disabilities.