Monday's CBS This Morning highlighted the “devastating toll” the coronavirus is having on nursing homes in this country, noting that 28,000 deaths are connected to nursing homes. What wasn’t mentioned at all in the four minute-plus segment? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous decision to send COVID patients to nursing homes. Somehow, that never came up at all.
Co-host Anthony Mason explained, “We could soon get a clearer picture of the devastating toll the pandemic has had on nursing homes. More than 15,000 nursing homes had to submit their first reports on coronavirus deaths and infections to the federal government by last night.” He added, “CBS News has confirmed that of the more than 89,000 deaths from the coronavirus, more than 28,000 were connected to nursing homes, nearly a third of the total.”
FoxNews.com detailed Cuomo’s actions and the stark toll:
Cuomo has come under fire for his policy enacted March 25 forcing nursing homes to take in COVID-19 positive patients, which has only recently been reversed.
More than 4,800 people died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in New York from March 1 to May 1, according to a count by the governor’s office. Roughly 25 percent of all deaths in the state occurred in nursing homes.
Back on May 5, the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin wrote in an op-ed entitled “This nursing home disaster is on you, Gov. Cuomo”:
The March 25 order that forced infected patients on them allows for no exceptions and has not been changed.
Over 1,700 more coronavirus deaths reported in NY nursing homes
The killer fifth paragraph still reads: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
Yet, while CBS ignored New York and Cuomo on Monday, the network hailed Cuomo back in April. On the April 19 Face the Nation, John Dickerson showcased the Democrat as an example of a real “leader”:
DICKERSON: In an age of finger-pointing, blame-shifting and spin, it can be bracing to simply hear a leader take responsibility.
CUOMO: If you are upset by what we have done, be upset at me. My judgment is do whatever`s necessary to contain this virus and then we will manage the consequences afterwards. The old expression, the buck stops on my desk, the buck stops on my desk. Your local mayor did not close your restaurants, your bars, your gyms or your schools. I did. I did.
Dickerson added, “Leaders identify a need, make a plan, and follow through.” How did that plan work out in New York?
In comparison, NBC called out Cuomo back on May 11.
Below is the transcript of the May 18 CBS This Morning and a partial transcript from the April 19 Face the Nation. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
7:30 AM ET
ANTHONY MASON: Welcome back to CBS This Morning. We could soon get a clearer picture of the devastating toll the pandemic has had on nursing homes. More than 15,000 nursing homes had to submit their first reports on coronavirus deaths and infections to the federal government by last night. CBS News has confirmed that of the more than 89,000 deaths from the coronavirus, more than 28,000 were connected to nursing homes. Nearly a third of the total. As Jonathan Vigliotti reports, a lack of staff could have made the problem worse.
LISA COOK: I feel like I'm lying to him when I tell him I'm going to see him soon. I feel like I -- I have to say that to him so he doesn't give up.
JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Lisa Cook's husband Bruce, who suffered from strokes, is recovering at the Stoney Point health care center near Los Angeles. Before coronavirus, she said Bruce had made progress through months of speech and therapy. Cook is now worried he’s declining and she’s concerned about his care.
LISA COOK: The caregivers with my angels, I call them. They don't have time to look after him the way -- they don't have the time. Bruce is absolutely at their mercy.
VIGLIOTTI: : At least 14 Stoney Point residents and eight staff members have tested positive for covid-19. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform filed a complaint with the state about conditions at the facility during the outbreak. A report issued by the California Department of Public Health found a deficiency in infection prevention and control, including a nurse entering an isolation route wearing PPE and grabbing a cart without cleaning his or her hands. How does that make you feel to know that this is a place that is supposed to be taking care of your husband?
COOK: It makes me mad. It makes me scared because that's unacceptable. But I know it probably happens because they're overworked and understaffed.
VIGLIOTTI: The centers for Medicare and Medicaid services gave Stoney Point a below-average rating for staffing. Mike Dark is an attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
MIKE DARK: Understaffing is really the original sin of the nursing home industry in that so many other problems like neglect, like infection control really stem from it. And that was the case long before this virus showed up.
VIGLIOTTI: There are no federal regulations on staffing levels. But federally certified nursing homes are required to have a licensed nurse on duty. CBS News found that roughly one in 15 U.S. Nursing homes was cited last year for feting to meet standards for sufficient nursing home staff. Now the outbreak which has sickened workers and prompted others to stay at home is hurting staffing levels even more.
APRIL VERRETT (SCIU Local 2015): What we've heard from our members about staffing since the pandemic is that the conditions are far worse than they ever have been.
VIGLIOTTI: April Verrett is president of SCIU Local 2015, California's largest union which represents one quarter of the state's nursing home workers. Verrett said the median salary for nursing home workers is about $23,000 a year. Advocates say operators need to increase pay and hire more employees. They also want the family members to be allowed back in they've been tested and have proper PPE.
COOK: For him to recover or any other patient that's in there or to stay well, they have to have their families there. They absolutely do. And there's got to be a way.
VIGLIOTTI: And we reached out to Stoney Point about the inspection report. The facility said "We take such reports seriously, and this one was no exception." I quote, “We took immediate corrective action upon receiving the notice and instilled additional training for all staff on proper infection control procedures.” The facility says they have an unwavering commitment to provide the highest level of care. Lisa Cook, who you heard from there, says that should include allowing families back in to nursing homes. Gayle?
CBS's Face the Nation
JOHN DICKERSON: In an age of finger-pointing, blame-shifting and spin, it can be bracing to simply hear a leader take responsibility.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If you are upset by what we have done, be upset at me. My judgment is do whatever's necessary to contain this virus and then we will manage the consequences afterwards. The old expression, the buck stops on my desk, the buck stops on my desk. Your local mayor did not close your restaurants, your bars, your gyms or your schools. I did. I did.
DICKERSON: Voters notice when leaders step up. Polls show that the governors in the states of California, New York, Ohio and Arkansas have approval ratings in the 70s and 80s. State laboratories also showed the limits of what works. In Michigan, Governor Whitmer has rallied the public and won its approval, but recent, strict stay-at-home orders caused a backlash, which, in its responsible form, reminded us that leaders can only do so much through coercion.
Leaders identify a need, make a plan, and follow through. So this week, three sets of regional governors formed groups to think through the next phase in Covid-19 response that might boost economic output, relying on evidence, consultation and persuasion. There's much work ahead because even when the medical laboratories find a solution, these laboratories will have to keep working.