Cuomo ignored local input during COVID-19 outbreak: report


A new state-commissioned report raps the Cuomo administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic as heavily focused on hospitals while ignoring input from other local public health officials and medical providers.

“All participants collectively felt that the voice of the health care and public health community — outside of hospitals — was missing in the state’s response to COVID,” said the report jointly prepared by the state Public Health and Health Planning committees.

The panels advise the New York State Health Department.

The report was based on input and recommendations solicited from panels of local medical providers, hospitals and local elected and health department officials.

“The overarching request of panelists is to have more involvement in the strategy and decisions made at the state level and to be recognized and valued as integral parts of keeping New Yorkers safe and healthy,” the report said.

“The key messages to the public were largely hospital related; in the future, messages advising patients to contact their primary care providers could have avoided disruptions in ongoing care for non-COVID related services.”

The report said state “policymakers” are “too often unaware of the needs” of the local population and the services provided by its medical providers and are “undervalued in planning and policy making.”

Nursing home operators also complained that Cuomo and the Health Department imposed controversial COVID-19 edicts on their facilities without input, particularly the March 25 order requiring them to admit recuperating COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals. Families of the more than 6,500 residents who died in nursing homes from the disease are still railing against Cuomo’s handling of the situation.

The report also said “conflicting information” about the pandemic provided by federal, state and local government officials needs to be fixed to “avoid inconsistencies and misinformation.” President Trump, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have sometimes offered conflicting information, including over enforcement of safety protocols.

Other complaints and recommendations in the report:

— The experience of local health departments in screening, testing, contact tracing and data management “was not tapped in the design of local strategies.”

— Primary care and local health departments were “the last to get” PPE and COVID-19 tests. and were “unable to utilize their local lab capacity” — even though one hospital reported that 80 percent of its COVID-19 patients were home in the community.

— The state needs a plan to tackle “structural racism” in New York City’s health care care system — citing the higher coronavirus rates among Blacks and Latinos.

State data show 25,659 fatalities in New York are linked to the coronavirus. John Hopkins University’s tracker estimates that 33,357 deaths in New York were confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

Responded Health Department spokesman Gary Holmes, “Local health and medical providers are recognized and valued as integral parts of keeping New Yorkers safe and healthy, and those partners at all levels of New York’s healthcare system share in the success we’ve experienced in New York State, which went from the early epicenter of this pandemic to one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

“All of the lessons learned and ideas shared through this committee, and other forums, will serve us well as we continue forward in the fight to protect New Yorkers from a virus which has not yet yielded and plan for the herculean effort of safely distributing and administering a potential COVID-19 vaccine.”


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