Senator Fred Akshar's Petition for an Independent Investigation into COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

SEN. Fred Akshar

September 01, 2020

As most New Yorkers know, Governor Cuomo and his Department of Health have received fierce criticism for mandating that nursing homes must admit COVID-19 positive patients into their facilities. In my view, this criticism is clearly justified.

As the nursing home death toll mounted - and the Governor began coming under fire - this mandate was eventually rescinded.

Over the past two months, State Legislature held two bi- partisan, joint public hearing with the Department of Health centered around the same question asked by lawmakers, journalists, and family members repeatedly throughout this pandemic:

Why does the state not have accurate data on exactly how many nursing home residents died from COVID-19?

All we received were non-answers and empty bullet points.

The families of the thousands upon thousands of victims who lost their lives due to bad policy deserve better than some bureaucrat-mandated, public relations talking points. We can’t prevent the mistakes of the past from happening again if our leaders deliberately ignore them.

That’s why my Senate Republican colleagues and I brought a proposal to the floor of the Senate to launch an immediate, truly independent investigation into this critically important matter.

Shockingly, the State Senate Majority unanimously rejected this proposal. In my opinion, that’s not only unfortunate, it’s unacceptable.

Forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients was a disaster, and we need to get to the bottom of why and how this occurred so we can avoid future tragedies.

Thousands of lives have been lost. Grieving families - and all New Yorkers - deserve answers and have a right to know all of the facts.

That’s why I cosponsor legislation (S.8756) to establish a truly independent investigation conducted into the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response and its effects on deaths in nursing homes without further delay.

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