09.08.2020 0

A Tale of Two States: Who Handled Covid Better, New York or Florida?

By Catherine Mortensen

With the initial Covid-19 surge in cases and mortality in the rearview mirror (thankfully) for both New York and Florida, we finally have a clearer picture of the outcomes in states that took very different policy approaches — especially when it came to nursing homes.

Overall, 32,585 have died in New York as of this writing, and 11,870 have died in Florida. In both states, deaths were highly concentrated among the elderly at about 80 percent of all deaths. But within that population, on a per capita basis, New York had almost four times the number of deaths compared to Florida. The mortality rate so far is 815 deaths per 100,000 seniors in New York versus 229 deaths per 100,000 seniors in Florida.

This is a figure that members of the mainstream media have not reported, most likely because it flies in the face of the false narrative they’ve been pushing for the past few months.

The Tallahassee Democrat’s Zac Anderson reports some have accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “of standing by and doing little to halt the march of the virus in his state.” Meanwhile the press widely praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As one New York news outlet wrote, “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic has shot him to a form of national stardom and popularity in New York.”

“This is journalistic malpractice,” said Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Members of the drive-by-media did a hit job on Governor DeSantis, meanwhile, they elevated Governor Cuomo to near sainthood. They need to circle back to this story and give us the truth.”

And as bad as New York’s numbers are, a new analysis by the Associated Press indicates they could be even worse. The official number of Covid deaths in New York nursing homes is 6,500. But the AP crunched the data and believes that deaths could be as high as 11,000. It’s a number President Trump tweeted.  “Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York has the worst record on death and China Virus. 11,000 people alone died in Nursing Homes because of his incompetence!”

According to the AP: “Another group of numbers also suggests an undercount. State health department surveys show 21,000 nursing home beds are lying empty this year, 13,000 more than expected — an increase of almost double the official state nursing home death tally. While some of that increase can be attributed to fewer new admissions and people pulling their loved ones out, it suggests that many others who aren’t there anymore died… For all 43 states that break out nursing home data, resident deaths make up 44 percent of total COVID deaths in their states, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Assuming the same proportion held in New York, that would translate to more than 11,000 nursing home deaths.”

Making matters worse, Cuomo has blocked efforts to investigate how many nursing home residents were transferred to hospitals and later died. Cuomo’s command-and-control approach to the virus was reckless and it killed far more people than did DeSantis’s measured, limited government approach in Florida.

Cuomo forced nursing homes in his state to accept COVID-19 patients, issuing an executive order on March 25, knowing those facilities could not treat them. His actions infected the most vulnerable populations in the state with the deadly virus and was in direct violation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance. The guidance directed nursing homes to only admit COVID patients if “the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions” and to keep only those COVID-infected patients for which they could safely care for.

In contrast, Florida did the opposite, not transferring infected patients to nursing homes, and even with the additional protections, still 4,800 seniors died from assisted living facilities there — underscoring just how important those precautions are.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma on May 21 noted, “In the guidance, CMS urged nursing homes to dedicate a specific wing to patients moving to, or arriving from, a hospital, where they could remain for 14 days with no symptoms.”

The bottom line is despite having 1.1 million more seniors in Florida, New York had nearly four times the number of senior deaths per capita from the virus.

“As America continues to struggle with how to open up our schools, and businesses, we would be well-served to learn from this tale of these two states,” concluded Manning. “One state responded to the pandemic by protecting vulnerable populations and allowing everyone else to make their own risk assessments. The other state imposed draconian lockdowns on everyone and ignored federal safety guidelines. The outcomes could not be any more clear. Florida’s approached saved lives, while New York’s approach was a death sentence for thousands.”

Catherine Mortensen is the Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.

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