Governor Cuomo’s message that you are safer in a nursing home is wishful thinking, at best, and gross negligence, at worst. Throughout this pandemic, home care workers, whether personal care aides, home health aides, or personal assistants, have risked their lives and the lives of their families, often for minimum wage. Because these workers are going in and out of people’s homes to provide care, and not stationed at hospitals or nursing facilities, they have been overlooked for the adequate provision of masks, gloves, and other PPE. Yet people have managed and the fatalities of senior and disabled residents living at home, while not officially tallied, are low. Meanwhile, 25% of funding, or $42 million meant for wages for their home care workers, was cut in the middle of this pandemic.
Given the Governor’s failure to invest in community-based care, it is no wonder he believes that residents are safer in a facility than they are receiving care at home, but the numbers tell the real story. A report by the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State found that while people were generally scared that they or their personal assistant could contract COVID-19, a staggering 75% of people receiving home care through consumer-directed personal assistance were scared that the disease would force them into one of these facilities. Their fears are valid, when one out of every four COVID-19 confirmed deaths in NY occurred in nursing homes – and one out of three in the month of June. The statistics are even worse for Black, brown and immigrant New Yorkers.
As the Governor himself has said, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. We encourage the Governor to stick to the facts and not jeopardize the lives of seniors and people with disabilities by trying to create a false narrative about the safety of these institutions.