Cuomo Lifts Visitation Restrictions: “Positive News To Spin Off Negative News”?

"Governor Cuomo's Major Agenda Proposal" (CC BY 2.0) by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has lifted COVID-19 visitation restrictions at nursing homes which he had put in place since the start of the pandemic last year. 

These new guidelines given by Cuomo, which took effect immediately allow visitation at all times for all residents. There will however be limited exceptions for unvaccinated residents in areas that still have high rate of COVID-19 and lower rates of vaccinated residents. 

The guidelines also replace the directive in February 23 that required a facility to be COVID-free for at least 14 days before people could visit. Said guidelines was difficult to attain with many of the 600 nursing homes in the state continuing to report sporadic cases among residents or staff. 

Cuomo said, “We now have three effective vaccines that are leading to significant decreases in long-term care COVID cases and a robust staff testing system to limit community spread from entering a facility.” He added, “Now is an appropriate time to take the next step and safely reconnect this community with their families.”

The announcement also comes within the time when grieving families conducted events and vigils to honor over 15,000 residents in nursing homes and senior facilities who died from COVID-19 over the past year. 

The families of the residents slammed Cuomo administartion of the controversial March 25, 2020 directive that required nursing homes to take in recovering COVID-positive patients that were discharged from hospitals. According to critics, this directive worsened infections and deaths of elderly residents. 

Meanwhile, nursing home advocates are happy that the state is already lifting th restrictions on family visitations. However, they questioned the governor’s motives behind it.

“I’m happy the governor is allowing visitations. But I do question the timing,” said Vivian Zayas, co-founder of Voices For Seniors, whose mom, Ana Martinez, 78, died from COVID at a hospital last April 1 after being transferred from a Long Island nursing home.

Zayas added that nursing home residents suffered twice, COVID-19 and the visitation restrictions. 

She said, there are the seniors who died because of the isolation. Adding that “five or ten thousand people died because of loneliness. They gave up.”

“Gov. Cuomo & Chairman Prendergast Ride E Train” (CC BY 2.0) by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

Zayas also made a comment against the embattled New York governor saying, “Cuomo puts out positive news to spin off negative news about his investigations. The change in policy is too little, too late.”

Cuomo, a three term Democratic governor is facing multiple federal and state investigations over the nursing home COVID-19 directive and the claimes of sexual harassment. On top of that, Cuomo is facing another probe over disturbing reports of power play where he allegedly used state staffers to improperly arrange COVID-19 tests for his relatives and favored officials during the early days when the state was struggling with the pandemic. A Cuomo spokesman denied wrongdoing but did not dispute the early access to testing.

Zayas said, “We’re surprised Cuomo is still in office.” She added, “Our resolve to see this through is still strong — of Cuomo being impeached or resigning. We want Cuomo held accountable at the federal level and the state level.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo has consistently denied his fault in handling nursing homes during the pandemic, stating that the number of COVID-positive cases in nursing homes has dipped by over 80% since the peach in mid-January during the second wave of COVID-19 surge.