Andrew Cuomo issued the order in March 2020 that ultimately killed at least 15,000 nursing home residents. The list of victims includes Daniel Arbeeny, whose father was in a home that was flooded with COVID patients thanks to Cuomo’s reckless order putting them in senior living facilities instead of other locations that could have protected elderly people.
Now Arbeeny, whose father was a Korean war veteran, has filed a wrongful death suit against Cuomo. His father died after catching COVID-19 in a Brooklyn nursing home and now Arbeeny is behind a class action lawsuit against the former governor.
“This policy of mandatory admission, non-testing and comingling of nursing home residents constituted reckless endangerment by all of the Defendants,” according to the suit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.
In a phone interview with The Post, Arbeeny said the suit — which also names the state and ex-Health Department boss Howard Zucker as defendants — was about holding state officials to account. It’s also an effort to get justice for the families who had relatives die in nursing homes.
“It’s a lot of people that are hurting and still hurting now,” Arbeeny said. “Justice has to be served.”
Arbeeny’s father, Norman, died at the age of 89 in April 2020, after he developed coronavirus symptoms during his stay at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a Brooklyn nursing home, the suit states.
He was tested for the virus soon before his death, according to the filing. Hours after he died, the test returned a positive result for COVID-19.
The suit notes that within a week of the directive being implemented, a field hospital in Central Park, the USS Comfort and the Javits Center could have all accepted coronavirus patients.
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“Through other regulatory actions. Defendants Cuomo and other New York State Health Officials rendered it near impossible [for] those facilities to be available for COVID-19 patients,” it claims.
In March, a new audit found Cuomo’s administration failed to report 4,000 nursing home deaths to COVID-19, likely in an attempt to keep up the positive publicity about the governor’s handling of the pandemic, according to a new state audit.
Cuomo, a pro-abortion Democrat, resigned in 2021 amid accusations of sexual misconduct and the nursing home deaths cover-up, but investigations continue.
This month, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released the findings of his audit into the nursing home death count during the Cuomo administration.
DiNapoli, a Democrat, found that the state under-counted 4,000 deaths, including approximately 50 percent of the deaths “between April 15, 2020, and May 2, 2020, a critical period of the pandemic when Mr. Cuomo … was trumpeting his response to the virus,” the Washington Times reports.
In early 2020, Cuomo received wide-spread praise in the mainstream media for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, pro-life advocates quickly expressed alarm after the governor ordered nursing homes to receive COVID-positive patients, meaning people with the virus were placed together with those most likely to die from it.
Eventually, evidence began to surface that state health officials under the Cuomo administration failed to report all of the nursing home deaths to the public – which DiNapoli’s audit again confirmed.
“Families have a right to know if their loved one’s COVID-19 death was counted, but many still don’t have answers from the state Department of Health,” DiNapoli said. “Our audit findings are extremely troubling. The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”
According to the audit, Cuomo health officials also lagged on nursing home inspections in the spring of 2020, inspecting 20 percent of facilities when most other states had inspected 90 percent within the same period.
DiNapoli concluded the audit by asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to provide answers to the families whose loved ones died during that time.
“An important step would be for [the state health department] to provide the families who lost loved ones with answers as to the actual number of nursing homes residents who died,” he said. “These families are still grieving, and they deserve no less.”
Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist whose in-laws both died in New York during that time, also has been demanding answers from the new governor.
“A bipartisan investigation must happen for families to begin to heal as opposed to @GovKathyHochul and @DrMaryTBassett @HealthNYGov’s method of pretending it never happened,” she wrote Thursday on Twitter in response to the new audit.
However, it appears Cuomo still is trying to avoid any blame. Speaking with CNN, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi accused the state auditor of political motivations.
“As the number of out-of-facility deaths were reported last January this is not news, however what is peculiar is the comptroller’s release of this audit now — but no one has ever accused him of being above politics,” Azzopardi said.
Cuomo first began facing criticism in early 2020 after he issued an executive order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. That order since has been linked to more than 15,000 deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic.
In early 2021, New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Cuomo and his administration of covering up the deaths of thousands of nursing home patients related to that order. Later that year, her office also accused the governor of sexually molesting several women.
Around the same time, an explosive New York Times report exposed how several of Cuomo’s top aides helped to hide approximately 9,000 people’s deaths to COVID in nursing homes. Meanwhile, the Democrat governor was receiving massive media praise for his handling of the pandemic and getting ready to profit from his new book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Originally, New York reported 8,110 deaths at nursing homes due to the coronavirus. However, the state tally only included people who died at a facility. Nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals and died there were not included in the total. According to the attorney general’s report in 2021, the actual total was 12,743.
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