So far, at least nine major health officials in the state of New York have either changed jobs or resigned entirely. This is an indicator of low morale in New York. It’s just one of the many things that people critical of governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to COVID-19 have mentioned as a source of suspicion.
Now, there are reports that Cuomo has essentially been running the COVID-19 response like a dictator, ignoring the objections of scientific efforts, tailoring his policy to the desires of medical industry lobbyists and possibly pushing those critical of his actions to resign.
According to a recent report by the New York Times, frustrated health experts in Cuomo’s administration have been resigning in droves because he blatantly ignores their advice.
Cuomo has been fairly open about the fact that he does so. During his many press briefings, the governor has frequently taken time to lambaste and criticize health experts, often quite contemptuously.
As an illustrative example, he said during one press briefing on Jan. 29, “When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts. Because I don’t. Because I don’t.”
Officials irked by Cuomo’s conduct have also complained that he tends to issue edicts to them about how he wants them to combat the coronavirus with no prior notification.
One especially egregious case of this involves vaccine distribution in New York. In response to 9/11, the H1N1 pandemic and other crises that have gripped the state over the years, a set of bottom-up, local-level plans have been implemented to help the state cope with disaster.
However, when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine distribution in New York, Cuomo has undercut all of this. Instead, through a series of closed-door meetings with hospital lobbyists, he has put hospitals in charge of vaccinating their own staff and all of the residents in their local areas. This is an extraordinarily inefficient system, but it’s highly profitable for the medical industry.
The Nursing Home Disaster
The recent report issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James only makes matters worse for Cuomo. The report concludes that the state may have systematically undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes that came about as a result of Cuomo’s directive to admit COVID-positive patients into nursing homes. The true death toll may be as high as 13,000.
For his part, Cuomo has consistently deflected responsibility for what happened and has said that he was only following the federal government’s guidelines. Those guidelines, however, were never mandatory, and Cuomo was free to contravene them.