Death, Politics and the Nursing Homes
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, when we honor the sacrifice of the men and women who died for our country. Too often we forget the meaning of the day and head off to sales, the beaches, and the backyard barbecues. In those states still locked down, it will be a continuation of the grim economy and spirit-busting effects of overreaching dictators, little based on reason. It will be a particularly hard to celebrate day for the many friends and family members of those killed in nursing homes and assisted living residences due to outrageously misguided gubernatorial dictates.
There still is a lot we don’t know about the transmission and treatment of the virus, though you’d be well advised to skip the hysterical accounts in the fake news and rely on more substantive accounts elsewhere. One thing has been consistently true, though: The elderly have been the most vulnerable to this disease. Reason would suggest, in that case, that instead of focusing enforcement attention on closing parks and beaches and arrests of lone surfers or churchgoers sitting in their closed window cars, attention should be paid to those institutions which house in close quarters the aged and infirm. Apparently, however, Democratic governors live in a post-rational world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5.1 million people live in nursing homes or residential care facilities, representing 1.6% of the U.S. population. And yet residents in such facilities account for 42 percent of all deaths from COVID-19, for states that report such statistics.
Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming do not break out deaths by residential categories. But among the 79,259 U.S. COVID-19 deaths captured by our analysis, 32,930, or 42 percent, were nursing or residential care home residents.
You would think, then, that the contra-rational approach of governors like Andrew Cuomo would draw media attention and criticism. Instead, he is being lionized, probably because the pensmiths hope that he will be the Democratic nominee when the party gives the demented and corrupt Joe Biden the hook.
Professor Glenn Reynolds, reminds us of the idiotic moves Cuomo took.
Probably the biggest and deadliest mistake was New York’s requirement that recovering patients with COVID-19 be accepted by nursing homes. That’s right -- people who were still contagious with a disease that is especially deadly to the old and sick were placed in facilities that were full of the old and sick. Nursing homes that protested were ordered to shut up and take the patients anyway.
More than 5,300 nursing home patients in New York have died from Covid-19, and as an Albany Times Union account notes, critics blame this policy. Cuomo has now tacitly admitted the error by reversing the policy, requiring patients to test negative before they are sent to nursing homes.
But it took rather a long time to reverse what seems like an obviously deadly policy, one that the Wall Street Journal called a "fatal error."
Writing in the New York Post, Michael Goodwin notes: “First, nursing homes never believed they had any right to deny infected patients, saying the order from the state Department of Health would have included that option if that were the intent. The order’s language did not offer any hint of flexibility... Worse, the order came without warning, took effect immediately and gave the homes no time to set up segregated beds and staff. All nursing homes, good and bad, large and small, were treated as if they were fit for an influx of coronavirus patients. The second problem with Cuomo’s claim is the case of the Cobble Hill Health Center, which lost at least 55 patients to the virus. The CEO, Donny Tuchman, showed reporters April emails where he asked state health officials for assistance, and was turned down. He also asked them if COVID-19 patients he had could be sent instead to the Javits Center or the Navy ship Comfort, both of which were far below capacity. He was rejected again. It’s true there was one way Albany officials did help beleaguered nursing homes. The packages of equipment they sent included body bags.”
He wasn’t the lone governor to adopt this stupid policy. The governors of California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey adopted the same stupid rule to place COVID-19 infected patients in nursing homes for the elderly, resulting in high mortality rates there.
It’s not that the governors had no warning of the disastrous effects of these policies -- they received ample warning
Health experts and trade associations had warned early on that forcing nursing homes to take on newly discharged COVID-19 patients was a recipe for disaster, noting that such facilities didn’t have the ability to properly quarantine the infected.
“This approach will introduce the highly contagious virus into more nursing homes. There will be more hospitalizations for nursing home residents who need ventilator care and ultimately, a higher number of deaths. Issuing such an order is a mistake and there is a better solution,” American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson announced in March after New York’s order went into effect.
David Grabowski, a professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School, sounded incredulous when asked about the policy.
“Nursing homes are working so hard to keep the virus out, and now we’re going to be introducing new COVID-positive patients?” Grabowski told NBC.
Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition in New York, echoed that sentiment.
“To have a mandate that nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients has put many people in grave danger,” Mollot told the Bucks County Courier Time.
I agree with FEE -- the consequences of central planning, which disregards the input of those on the ground with real experience, is a hubristic disaster -- always.
This week a video of a horrific lengthy and brutal beating of an aged and feeble 70-year-old veteran in a nursing home by a 20-year-old strong man -- a video I’m loath to link to precisely because it is so awful to watch -- adduced a lot of comments online blaming the nursing home. The facts prove otherwise. The first blame, of course, goes to the thug, but just as blameworthy is the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, and her government minions.
Because of the lockdown -- and one assumes bureaucratic error, the elderly man had been removed from "his apartment without notice to his family who had no idea how to reach him" and placed in the nursing home. At the direction of Whitmer, the man doing the beating was placed there because he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in a nearby hospital. The placement of this young man there was unconscionable because along with being infected, he had a history of assaultive behavior and mental illness:
The suspect's father, who asked not to be named, said his son has mental health issues and a pending assault case in Washtenaw County and should never have been placed in the nursing home.
"He has issues and for them to put him in a facility like that, nothing good was going to happen," the suspect's father told 7 Action News.
He said his son was recently moved to the nursing center because the 20-year-old was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the University of Michigan Hospital.
The father said he's been working with Washtenaw County Mental Health Services to get his son the help he needs and that he was placed in a group home in Chelsea. But, recently, he said his son began hearing voices and that's when he was taken to the hospital and it was there he says that his son was diagnosed with COVID-19.
"He never should have been housed, quarantined with the victim that he eventually assaulted. That should have never happened," he said. "Someone dropped the ball."
The statewide lockdowns were taken on little scientific basis, arbitrarily issued, and have had a disastrous impact on the economy. And the skyrocketing nursing home death rates are not the whole of the deaths caused by top-down mismanagement of what, it seems from the most accurate sources, was hardly more dangerous to the general population than the normal flu.
“Doctors in Northern California say they have seen more deaths from suicide than they’ve seen from the coronavirus during the pandemic.
“The numbers are unprecedented,” Dr. Michael deBoisblanc of John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California, told ABC 7 News about the increase of deaths by suicide, adding that he’s seen a “year’s worth of suicides” in the last four weeks alone. [snip] Suicide has been an increasingly significant problem across the country as the coronavirus outbreak caused stay-at-home orders that led to unemployment and stress.
By late March, more people had died in just one Tennessee county from suicide than had died in the entire state directly from the virus.
A study published in early May suggested that the coronavirus could lead to at least 75,000 deaths directly brought on by anxiety from the virus, job losses, and addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Another study conducted by Just Facts around the same time computed a broad array of scientific data showing that stress is one of the deadliest health hazards in the world and estimated that the coronavirus lockdowns will destroy 7 times as many years of human life than strict lockdowns can save.
Earlier this week, more than 600 doctors signed their names on a letter to President Trump, referring to the continued lockdowns as a “mass casualty incident” and urging him to do what he can to ensure they come to an end.
When should these lockdowns cease? Well, our windsock oracle Dr. Anthony Fauci said on March 12 that there’d be “suffering and death” if we reopened too early and 10 days later offered up that staying closed too long could lead to “irreparable damage.” With guidance like that and his earlier flip-flops --like the wear masks now-we don’t need masks then -- and all his murky Delphic musings, it’s time to ignore him and listen to the doctors on the ground and your own pragmatic observations of the devastation people like Fauci and the governors caused.
Having enjoyed the wielding of such enormous powers, a few of those same governors are reluctant to cede power back to the voters, voters increasingly defiant at the loss of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Governor Whitmer, apparently in response to the growing citizens’ revolt just further extended her lockdown to June 12. It applies to others, not herself of course. She’ll be at her summer home and hosting a graduation party for her daughter.