Today, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,I,SAM,ROS-Mahopac), the Ranking Minority member on the Assembly Health Committee, issued a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Dr. Mary Bassett, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, urging them to review the state’s response to COVID-19 and make the necessary changes to ensure another failure of this magnitude can be avoided in the future. The full letter to Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Bassett can be viewed here.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issued an audit earlier this week confirming the state grossly misrepresented how many individuals in state nursing homes and long-term care facilities died from COVID-19, and that it failed to report the true extent of the outbreak in those facilities.
“The Assembly Minority Conference has repeatedly called for measures to be put in place to address the gross failures of the past and ensure nothing like this happens again in the future,” reads the letter. “This week, the Comptroller’s report made clear the Department of Health was ill-prepared to handle a pandemic of this magnitude long before the first case of COVID-19 was reported.”
The Assembly Minority Conference had identified major shortcomings in the state’s pandemic response shortly after the Department of Health issued a March 25, 2020 directive forcing nursing homes to accept patients with COVID. The letter calls for a thorough review of the state’s pandemic response and demands answers and accountability for those involved in that plan.
“In the interest of public health and safety, we cannot afford more missteps. The victims, their families and the 20 million residents of this State deserve leaders who are committed to truth and transparency, and they will no longer stand for misleading or manipulated facts,” the letter continues.