Like “fire through dry grass”: 6,300 COVID-19 patients were sent to New York nursing homes – but 20,000 infected staff responsible for spread of virus, Governor maintains

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Insights into how Government policy may be linked to the deaths of over 6,400 aged care residents.

As we reported here, the state had put a directive in place that required nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients during the height of the pandemic to help free up hospital beds.

The policy was later scrapped by the Governor Andrew Cuomo, but families and advocates have blamed the hospital transfers for the more than 6,400 coronavirus deaths recorded in New York’s nursing home and long-term care-facilities.

Mr Cuomo maintains however infected workers were responsible for spreading the virus, comparing them to “fire through dry grass” – a statement that is now backed by a report released by the state this week.

It found more than 20,000 aged care workers were infected with COVID-19 in New York between March and late April when the policy was in effect. Another 17,500 workers were infected through early June.

While the report doesn’t rule out whether the transfer policy played any role in the cases, the report shows over 80% of the 310 nursing homes that admitted recovering COVID-19 patients already had a confirmed or suspected case among residents or staff.

The average patient had also been hospitalised for nine days – the same period that it likely takes for the virus to no longer be contagious, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Governor Cuomo argued it wasn’t well understood early in the pandemic how easily the virus could be spread by people without symptoms.

“Nobody knew what they were talking about for a long time. That’s the bottom line here,” he said on Monday.

That would seem to be the case.