PolitiFact Editor-In-Chief Angie Drobnic Holan defended New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deadly policy that sent patients infected with COVID-19 back to long-term care facilities, instead blaming the disproportionate numbers of virus deaths in those facilities on their employees.
“I think the situation in New York is really complicated,” Holan told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday. “Certainly there are things to criticize about how the former administration handled data, but the heart of the matter goes back to last year when the state was asking nursing homes to take in patients, COVID patients, who are ready to be discharged from the hospital. We don’t see hard evidence that that made a significant difference in COVID deaths.”
In addition to denying the New York attorney general’s report detailing how Cuomo, his administration, and the state’s Health Department severely undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes and the coverup of these actions as admitted by his top aide, Holan also blamed the spread of the virus in nursing homes on employees, a narrative the Cuomo administration carried throughout 2020.
“If you look at the statistics New York is about having the same numbers as other states around the country, and the issue was employees workers in the nursing homes, who didn’t realize they were bringing COVID-19 into the nursing homes,” Holan said. “So it’s a really complicated situation. There’s not clear-cut answers here.”
Angie Drobnic Holan, EIC of PolitiFact, on Gov. Cuomo's COVID nursing home scandal: "I think the situation in NY is really complicated…We don't see hard evidence that [his order] made a significant difference in COVID deaths," adds the "issue" was employees bringing in COVID. pic.twitter.com/iwUn7CWIqX
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 21, 2021
Earlier this week, Holan’s site PolitiFact doubled down on one of its “fact-checks” concerning Cuomo, claiming that despite reports and even admissions from the governor’s office about a coverup of the thousands of deaths that occurred under his direction, it is still “mostly false” to claim the higher death rate as compared to other states without this policy was Cuomo’s fault.
“The fact check itself focused on a policy issued by Cuomo in March directing nursing homes in the state to accept patients who had or were suspected of having covid-19. As long as they were medically stable, the notice said, it was appropriate to move patients in,” the editor’s note on the article states. “Our ruling of Mostly False is unchanged by this new information. That rating was based on evidence that while the introduction of covid-19 positive patients into nursing homes no doubt had an effect on the spread of the coronavirus, Caputo’s statement suggested it was solely responsible. That’s not what the evidence showed, then or now.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also refused to condemn Cuomo’s fatal policy on behalf of the White House or President Joe Biden, instead choosing to praise the governor’s leadership and claim that it is up to “the appropriate law enforcement authorities to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward.”
“I think the president is focused on his goals, his objectives as president of the United States. He’s going to continue to work with Gov. Cuomo, just like he’ll continue to work with governors across the country,” Psaki said.