Then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the coronavirus could burn through nursing homes “like fire through dry grass” 10 days before he issued an infamous March 2020 executive order that required nursing homes to take COVID-19-positive patients, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reveals in an upcoming memoir.
Relatives of nursing home residents who died following Cuomo’s order told The Post the disclosure heightens their outrage and underscores the need for accountability.
Kushner wrote that Cuomo specifically mentioned possible nursing home horrors in a 30-minute phone call as Kushner helped lead the early White House pandemic response as infections mounted in New York.
In the March 15 call, Cuomo allegedly told Kushner, “For nursing homes, this could be like fire through dry grass.”
Cuomo’s subsequent March 25 order said nursing homes weren’t allowed to turn away patients “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” which the families of victims said was a death sentence for vulnerable elderly residents.
Kushner described a generally good working relationship with Cuomo while helping lead the White House coronavirus response, in part due to Cuomo’s supportive outreach to Kushner’s father after his 2004 arrest, when the governor told the disgraced billionaire, “I’ve had highs and lows as well. You’ll be back.”
Cuomo’s controversial nursing home policy remained in effect until May 10 and was intended to ease hospital crowding. Kushner does not go into detail on the nursing home scandal in his nearly 500-page tome, “Breaking History,” which is due out Aug. 23.
The Cuomo administration went on to admittedly cover up the death statistics from nursing homes to impede a federal investigation.
Vivian Zayas, whose 78-year-old mother, Ana Martinez, died at the Our Lady of Consolation nursing home in West Islip, slammed Cuomo for ordering infected people into nursing homes despite his awareness about the possible toll.
“What I feel is heartbreak because our parents, our loved ones were still alive on March 15,” said Zayas, who with her sister founded the advocacy group Voices for Seniors.
“His deviation marked my mom for death. She was expendable. We will never know why he still decided to go forth.”
Zayas added, “There could’ve been more that could have been done. How many seniors who were still alive on March 15 would have lived if he had not done that order and if he had not instructed the nursing homes to take these people in?”
It’s unclear why the Democratic governor proceeded to allow the state order to take effect given his concerns.