On Dec. 28, Cooperstown Center – the former Otsego Manor, now in private hands – advised its Family Council that two residents had died – not necessarily OF COVID, but WITH COVID.
Officially, one died of a bleeding hernia, the other of sepsis, at Bassett Hospital, NOT at the nursing home.
The Cuomo Administration’s Health Department took this kind of parsing a step further: Statewide, if a nursing home resident with COVID was transferred to a hospital and died there, he or she was counted as a hospital death, not a nursing-home death.
Attorney General Letitia James blew the whistle on this slack practice in a press conference last Thursday, Jan. 28, detailing an investigation that found nursing-home deaths from COVID may actually be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration has been letting on.
Later that day, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released new numbers, raising the nursing-home tally by 3,800 to a new total of 12,743. That means about a third of our state’s 40,000 COVID deaths happened in places like Cooperstown Center.
So Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, knew. But so what?
Editor’s Note: Here are the recommendations in state Attorney General Letitia James’ report, “Nursing Home Response to COVID-19 Pandemic,” which also discovered nursing-home deaths may be 50 percent higher than the Cuomo Administration let on. For Complete Text Click Here.
•Ensure public reporting by each nursing home as to the number of COVID-19 deaths of residents occurring at the facility — and those that occur during or after hospitalization of the residents — in a manner that avoids creating a double-counting of resident deaths at hospitals in reported state COVID-19 death statistics.
• Enforce, without exception, New York State law requiring nursing homes to provide adequate care and treatment of nursing home residents during times of emergency.
• Require nursing homes to comply with labor practices that prevent nursing homes from pressuring employees to work while they have COVID-19 infection or symptoms, while ensuring nursing homes obtain and provide adequate staffing levels to care for residents’ needs.
• Require direct care and supervision staffing levels that: (1) are expressed in ratios of residents to RNs, LPNs, and CNAs; (2) require calculation of sufficiency that includes adjustment based on average resident acuity; (3) are above the current level reflected at facilities with low CMS Staffing ratings; and, (4) are sufficient to care for the facility’s residents’ needs reflected in their care plans.
POUGHKEEPSIE – In his daily briefing, Governor Cuomo today announced Kawasaki disease, which may be related to COVID-19, has stricken 73 children in the state, and is responsible for a 5-year-old boy’s death yesterday in New York City.
The state Department of Health is investigating several cases where children are experiencing a toxic-shock-like syndrome possibly due to COVID-19, and is working with the CDC to develop a “case definition” to determine whether the cases under investigation are definitely associated with the syndrome.
ALBANY – In today’s briefing, Governor Cuomo said he sees the coronavirus crisis phasing out over the next 12-18 months, with public health as the pacing factor. He didn’t get into the economic impact of such a delay, but said “we have to build a bridge” to a better place.
“Well, when is this over? I say, personal opinion, it’s over when we have a vaccine,” he said. “It’s over when people know I’m 100 percent safe and I don’t have to worry about this. When does that happen? When we have a vaccine. When do we have a vaccine? 12 to 18 months.
“When this crisis began, we engaged experts to model the path of this virus. But there was one thing the statisticians didn’t count on: they didn’t know how unified New Yorkers can be. They couldn’t use their computers to measure New Yorkers’ spirit and love for each other. It was hard to quantify the levels New Yorkers would rise to to stay home, social distance and look out for one another. We are not out of the woods yet — but the social distancing measures all of us are taking are working and we must continue to look out for each other.”
ALBANY – Governor Cuomo has begun deliberations into reopening New York State’s economy, although the way ahead is still unclear.
“When we talk about reopening, let’s study the data and let’s look at what has happened around the world,” he said at today’s briefing. “Let’s make sure the best health minds in the country are giving us their best advice.
ALBANY – Governor Cuomo is issuing an executive order allowing the state to redistribute ventilators and personal protective equipment, or PPE, from institutions that don’t currently need them and redeploy the equipment to other hospitals with the highest need.
“I’m not going to get into a situation where we’re running out of ventilators and people are dying because there are no ventilators but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they’re not using,” he said a today’s briefing. “I’m just not going to allow us to go there. I think it would be wholly irresponsible.”
ALBANY – Here at the highlights of today’s coronavirus briefing by Governor Cuomo:
• 21,000 Out-of-State Individuals Have Volunteered to Work in New York’s Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic; 85,400 Health Professionals Have Signed up to Volunteer as Part of the State’s Surge Healthcare Force to Date
LOUDONVILLE – New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of the job Governor Cuomo is doing to address the coronavirus pandemic, 87-11 percent, according to a Siena Poll of registered voters released this week.
They also give overwhelmingly high marks to their local health department, Dr. Anthony Fauci, their local government leader, and the CDC.
#KeepTheCap! This is a rallying cry for local government officials from around the state. What cap? The New York State 0% growth Medicaid Tax Cap that has been in place since 2012.
It goes hand in hand with another cap – the 2% cap on property tax levies that has been in place for NYS municipalities since roughly the same time.
They were instituted to work in tandem to decrease the pressure on local governments – to keep property taxes from increasing to meet the rising cost of providing Medicaid services to residents in all of the counties and New York City. The state would cover a portion of the increases and local governments would work harder to create efficiencies across the rest of their budgets.
For a decade this has worked, but the caps are in danger of diverging in this year’s state budget process. The Executive Budget reveals a strategy whereby the cap on the state side is removed and the cap on the local side stays the same, at the same time that $150 million of Medicaid costs are transferred to the counties and NYC.
The numbers that result are bringing together counties from across the state to send a unified message – Keep the Cap!
Earlier this month, county board Chair Dave Bliss and I spent the day in Albany. We were joined by dozens of county Officials and the staff of the state Association of Counties (@nyscounties).
We attended a meeting with the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Local Government. The message was clear. The message was urgent. Keep the Cap!
We have shown good faith on our end of the tax cap – bringing in budgets under 2% growth in the tax levy. Please work with us to avoid the fiscal stress this move will bring to local budgets.
There is no way the math works for us – without the help of NYS to share the costs associated with Medicaid at or near current levels, we cannot stay under 2% growth without making drastic cuts to non-mandated services. Even with cuts to such services, we would struggle.
We met with our local representatives in their offices in the Legislative Office Bldg and the Capitol. Assemblymen John Salka, Brian Miller and Chris Tague and Sen. Jim Seward expressed concern over the proposals and commitment to fight to #KeepTheCap. At the local level, this is a non-partisan issue. Everyone agrees that removing the cap on Medicaid spending would create fiscal stress in county budgets.
In an ideal world we promote prosperity and reduce the cost of Medicaid to each county by fostering economic development, the creation of jobs, expanding the tax base through increased investment and reducing the number of people who require assistance through upward mobility.
We can and should work toward that model.
In the short term, next year could bring unprecedented growth in the county’s share of the cost of Medicaid to our residents. New York is unique in having counties pay a share in this federal and state program. The cost of the program is set at state and federal levels. The 0% cap shields county government from the rising cost of the program that it neither controls nor designs. Keep the Cap! Protect local taxpayers.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the 19 terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon, or crashed in Schwenksville, Pa., had 30 driver’s licenses among them that allowed them to gain access to and hijack the four jets.
Nineteen licenses were from Florida, eight from Virginia, one each from Arizona and Maryland, plus two from California that were issued to two “watchlisted” participants.
None were from our state’s DMV, but if such a national catastrophe were to occur again, it could be different.
Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli referenced that last Thursday, Feb. 10, in answering reporters’ questions on his department’s decision to exclude New Yorkers from four “Trusted Traveler” programs after the passage of the state’s “Green Light” Law, which prohibits state law enforcement agencies from sharing routine DMV data with immigration agencies.
The programs give pre-approved travelers and trucking companies no-wait entry in to the U.S. The decision means 80,000
New Yorkers who have applied for the status won’t be approved, and 175,000 already approved will lose their status as their five-year passes expire.
“It was embarrassing to us in Virginia, that (many) of the 9/11 terrorists used Virginia driver’s licenses to help accomplish their evil mission, and we set about to fix that, and we did fix that,” said Cuccinelli.
New York is “one of the other targets of 9/11 that is walking backwards, quite intentionally, … to bar the sharing of law-enforce-
ment-relevant information like vehicle registration, matching driver’s licenses to identifications, and critically, criminal records that are kept up to date and DMV databases.”
As stated here before, the “Green Light” legislation, granting a legal document to people who are in the U.S. illegally, is illogical on its face, evident to the 62 percent of New Yorkers who opposed it in a Siena Poll.
Plus, the Democratic majority folded it into the vote on the state budget, avoiding public hearings and on-the-floor discussion where the benefits and deficits would have become clear.
The law forced county clerks who run DMV offices, like Otsego’s Kathy Sinnot Gardner, to disobey either state law or federal law, contrary to their oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States AND the Constitution of the State of New York.” (Emphasis added.)
Since DMV applications are automatically forwarded to the state Board of Elections, where they are processed routinely, the “Green Light” at least gives an amber to voter fraud.
The law in place, the DMV and state Division of Criminal Justice Service then ordered local police to sign a “pledge” not to share any related information with federal agencies; obdurate police would be denied access to DMV records, essential to ensure someone stopped for speeding isn’t wanted for shooting a cop downstate.
County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., called that “blackmail,” reported Joe Mahoney, Albany correspondent for Plattsburgh’s, Niagara Falls’ and other Upstate papers, who broke the story statewide. “I signed the agreement with displeasure because it would really affect our officers here if we were not to have access to this data,” Devlin told Mahoney.
All this just isn’t right.
Supporters of the “Green Light” Law argue that because of the vast number of illegal immigrants in New York State – in 2014 there were 4.4 million in New York State, an estimated 22 percent of the population – this is a necessary safety measure, ensuring they pass the driver’s test and have insurance.
Still, to anyone who watched the World Trade Center towers collapse, visited the chilling 911 Memorial & Museum in New York City’s financial district, or listened to Cuccinelli the other afternoon, the justification rings hollow. Should every law be repealed if it’s flouted? Should any?
The answer to illegal immigration is much larger than the “Green Light” Law, requiring well-regulated borders and likely a humane path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding immigrants. (A massive expulsion would be a human rights disaster.) But that’s a separate discussion.
Democrats have characterized Homeland Security’s decision as a reprisal by the Trump Administration: In his State of the Nation speech the night before it came down, the president singled out California and New York State as states where “sanctuary” communities are putting the law-abiding general public at risk.
But with Monday the 10th’s announcement of action against the state of New Jersey and the county that includes Seattle, Wash., it appears to be part of a larger push-back against the whole concept of “sanctuaries” – one that’s long overdue.
In New York State, according to the Center for Immigrant Studies, the cities of New York City and Ithaca, and five counties, are sanctuaries. However, that doesn’t include Cooperstown, where a Village Board resolution from 2017 declares village police won’t cooperate with ICE investigations that may occur locally; now, it may make sense for the trustees to withdraw that ill-considered resolution.
Whether reprisal or prudent governance, the right course is clear: The “Green Light” Law should be repealed on the merits. That the state’s economy will now suffer and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers face travel delays are an added impetus for the state Legislature to do the right thing.
Instead of rethinking where we are and returning to a more sensible course, state Attorney General Letitia James, also on Monday, filed suit accusing the Trump Administration of using “our nation’s security as a political weapon.” Rather, is New York State simply risking our nation’s security to ride an ideological hobby horse?
As for the governor, he said “more than a dozen states – including red states – (have) similar laws.” He knows better. While other states grant licenses to undocumented immigrants, they didn’t include the most objectionable provision: barring cooperation with federal agencies. Washington State is considering that clause, but now may change its mind.
Contrary, it seems, to county clerks and sheriffs, the governor and attorney general are entitled to their own opinions. Neither is up for reelection in November, but the state Legislature is: 62 percent of voters should hold their representatives accountable on this issue. Turn off the “Green Light.”
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Acting Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf’s Feb. 5 letter notifying the state DMV that New York licensees are no longer eligible to participate in the department’s “Trusted Traveler” program. This excerpt accompanied the editorial, “‘Trusted Traveler’ Revocations Or Not, ‘Green Light’ Bad Law.”
New York State’s “Green Light” Act prevents DHS from accessing relevant information that only New York DMV maintains, including some aspects of an individual’s criminal history. As such, the Act compromises U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s (CBP) ability to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements. Moreover, the Act delays a used vehicle owner’s ability to obtain CBP authorization for exporting their vehicle.
Furthermore, on a daily basis, ICE has used New York DMV data in its efforts to combat transnational gangs, narcotics smuggling, human smuggling and trafficking, trafficking of weapons and other contraband, child exploitation, exportation of sensitive technology,
fraud, and identity theft.
In New York alone, last year ICE arrested 149 child predators, identified or rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrested 230 gang members, and seized 6,487 pounds of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and opioids. In the vast majority of these cases, ICE relied on New York DMV records to fulfill its mission…
…New York DMV records have long been used by ICE law enforcement personnel to verify or corroborate an investigatory target’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which can include their residential address, date of birth, height, weight, eye color, hair color, facial photograph, license plate, and vehicle registration information. Moreover, ICE’s expeditious retrieval of vehicle and driver’s license and identification information has helped identify targets, witnesses, victims, and assets.
ICE has used DMV records to obtain search warrants, and DMV records are also critical for ICE to identify criminal networks, create new leads for investigation, and compile photographic line-ups. Additionally, during the execution of search and arrest warrants,
ICE officers have used DMV information to identify individuals whose criminal history renders them a threat.
The Act prohibits the sharing of vehicle registration information, including the identity of the person to whom the vehicle is registered, with DHS. That prohibition prevents ICE from running license plate searches, even when ICE is aware that
the vehicle’ s owner has committed a heinous crime. In short, this Act will impede ICE’ s objective.
MIDDLEFIELD – It was a day for reporting nightmares.
Oneonta Police Chief Doug Brenner reported his officers apprehended a possible shoplifter, but were unable to hold the suspect under New York State’s criminal justice reforms. “Even before we are done” with the paperwork, the store owners called again. “The shoplifter was back in their business,” the chief said.
All police agencies need informers to crack drug cases, said Schoharie County Sheriff Roy Brown. Now, under new discovery provisions, “your informants will be disclosed before suspects can come to trial.” Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, said an informer on the MS-13 Puerto Rican gang was identified through disclosures required under the state reforms, and was killed.