New York’s hospitals “were never overwhelmed” at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed Wednesday, continuing his apparent rewrite of history in defense of a state Health Department mandate that barred nursing homes from turning away sickly seniors.
“Hospitals were never overwhelmed,” the governor told host Alisyn Camerota. “We always had excess capacity in hospitals, we always had excess capacity in emergency hospitals that we built. So we were never in a situation where we had to have a nursing home accept a COVID-positive person.”
But in the five boroughs, hospital capacity was a daily source of worry at the pandemic’s height in the spring, with Cuomo telling facilities to prepare to cram in 50 percent more patients than normal and beseeching the federal government for additional beds, including a field hospital in the Javits Center.
While the Javits Center and the USNS Comfort hospital ship sent by the feds were largely underutilized, traditional hospitals were often short on beds and even shorter on ventilators and personal protective equipment.
As for nursing homes, the state Department of Health in March issued a mandate prohibiting the facilities from turning away patients on the basis of a positive coronavirus test, even as Cuomo publicly acknowledged that seniors are among the most susceptible to the disease.
Several homes reported interpreting the guidance as leaving them with no option but to accept sick patients.