Grieving family members gathered in Cobble Hill Sunday to honor over 15,000 nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 a year into the pandemic.
Flowers, funeral wreaths and photos of loved ones lined Henry Street in what organizers called the “We Care Memorial”. But as they honored their loved ones at the memorial, family members also held signs calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take accountability for more the nursing home COVID-19 deaths.
The outcries came nearly one year after Cuomo issued a mandate that banned nursing homes from refusing residents who had coronavirus. Family members said that mandate caused the virus to spread to other residents.
Their demands came as the coronavirus task force in Cuomo’s administration is accused of omitting the full number of nursing home patients killed by COVID-19 on a state Department of Health report. An ongoing investigation into the nursing homes’ response by the state attorney general found the number of nursing home deaths may have been undercounted by as much as 50%.
Department of Health spokesperson Garry Holmes responded in a statement that reads, “As the Attorney General’s report rightly points out, the March 25th Department of Health guidance was consistent with and followed Federal guidance issued by the CDC and CMS and was not a directive to accept COVID patients if they could not otherwise provide appropriate care – a point the Attorney General’s Office found the nursing homes understood.”
As family members continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones, they say they are still seeking answers and demand a full independent investigation into the matter.