Today, Chele Chiavacci Farley, Republican and Conservative nominee for New York’s 18th Congressional District, penned a letter to Attorney General William Barr calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the more than 4,900 deaths that have occurred at 351 of New York State’s 613 nursing homes following Governor Cuomo's controversial policy requiring the facilities to accept COVID-19 patients. Hundreds of the deaths occurred in the Hudson Valley.
Please find the full text of the letter below.
May 8, 2020
Attorney General William Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
I am writing to respectfully request a United States Department of Justice review of the policies and actions that caused the death of hundreds of nursing home residents throughout the Hudson Valley, including 22 at the New York State Veterans Home at Montrose. Since March 1st, at least 4,900 seniors with confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 have died at 351 of the state’s 613 nursing homes.
It has been reported that New York State ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients regardless of their ability to effectively ensure the safety of other patients. Specifically, the state said that “no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
This policy was a catalyst that increased the rate of infection among the state’s most vulnerable, and contradicted federal guidance indicating that nursing homes can only accept “a resident diagnosed with COVID-19” if the facility can follow federal guidance on transmission precautions.
As a result of the state’s decision to flout this vital federal standard, seniors residing in nursing homes now represent a quarter of all coronavirus-related deaths statewide.
While I commend the federal, state and local governments for the extraordinary steps they have taken to protect New Yorkers during this crisis, I strongly believe that an independent, federal investigation is necessary to determine the source(s) and scope of the systemic failure that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 5,000 New York seniors.
By definition, New Yorkers residing in nursing homes and adult-care facilities are the most at-risk population for COVID-19. Without question, the March 25th state order compromised their safety. I hope that an independent investigation conducted by the United States Department of Justice reveals the individuals and process responsible for this tragic and avoidable situation.
Chele Chiavacci Farley
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