Connect with us

US

Cuomo admin. kept COVID tests from nursing homes as gov’s kin got them

Published

on

[ad_1]

The Cuomo administration largely ignored a county official’s pleas for COVID-19 tests for nursing homes at the pandemic’s height last spring — even as the governor allegedly secured the then-scarce tests for his relatives, The Post has learned.

The slight is the latest stumble in Cuomo’s pandemic response, particularly with respect to nursing homes, where thousands of residents have died of confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus.

Troubled by reports of COVID-19 running roughshod through nursing homes early in the pandemic, Jack Wheeler, the manager of upstate Steuben County, requested in April 2020 that the state Department of Health provide enough tests for every resident and staff member of three facilities in his jurisdiction.

The DOH, however, only came through with enough supplies for one of the three facilities, Hornell Gardens, with the precious diagnostic tests then hard to find, Wheeler told The Post.

That lackluster response came, as The Albany Times-Union reported last week, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly pulled strings to secure tests for bigwigs connected to his administration, as well as relatives including his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, and their elderly mother, Matilda.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly secured scarce COVID-19 tests for CNN host Chris Cuomo and their elderly mother, Matilda, according to The Albany Times-Union.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly secured scarce COVID-19 tests for CNN host Chris Cuomo and their elderly mother, Matilda, according to the Albany Times-Union.
Pool/Getty Images

“I’m furious because testing of the most vulnerable population should be the absolute priority and a simple request,” Wheeler told The Post. “But [that] high-level, connected people had that luxury when we couldn’t even get people in the nursing homes tested is just infuriating.”

Instead, Wheeler said he had to turn for help to Steve Acquario, the executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, to find tests for a second facility, Elderwood at Hornell.

Acquario undertook an eight-hour drive through several neighboring counties in search of spare tests to make ends meet.

“I knew where there might be some extra test kits in counties where they could afford to spare them, so I met them to pick up the kits at various drop-offs,” Acquario told The Post. “[Wheeler] and his county attorney reached out to me in despair and desperation. They were truly in a crisis.”

Jack Wheeler, the manager of upstate Steuben County, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration “couldn’t even get people in the nursing homes tested is just infuriating.”
Jack Wheeler, the manager of upstate Steuben County, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration “couldn’t even get people in the nursing homes tested is just infuriating.”
Seth Wenig/UPI/Shutterstock

“It was up to eight hours of driving, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” 

Darlene Smith, Steuben County’s health director, meanwhile worked to secure tests for the third facility, the Fred & Harriett Taylor Health Center.

The request for tests for that facility was initially approved by Dr. Gregory Young, the state DOH’s western region coordinator.

But at 6:30 a.m. on April 10 — the day that the tests were scheduled to happen — Young called to say that “decisions were being made in Albany,” according to Smith.

“I knew then that it was completely not going to happen,” Smith told The Post.

Steve Acquario, the executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, had to drive eight hours to find spare COVID-19 tests while Gov. Andrew Cuomo secured tests for relatives.
Steve Acquario, the executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, had to drive eight hours to find spare COVID-19 tests while Gov. Andrew Cuomo secured tests for relatives.
Pool Photo via AP

As with Elderwood at Hornell, local officials were eventually able to scrounge up enough tests for the testing effort at the Fred & Harriett Taylor Health Center, but only after leaving no stone unturned.

“Those nursing homes were raging with positive cases and deaths and the purpose of universal swabbing of both residents and staff was to identify positive cases, isolate the positive staff and … get the positive residents cohorted together to prevent further spread,” said Smith.

“We had to beg, borrow, and steal basically and were able to get test kits from other counties,” she continued. “Now knowing [that] what limited supply there was was being hoarded now for friends and family — it’s criminal. It’s just really hard to understand.”

A Cuomo spokesman has denied allegations of preferential treatment outlined by The Times-Union, calling them “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”

Laura Coriddi talks through a window with her mother Emma Sahl at Northgate Healthcare facility in North Tonawanda, New York on March 6, 2021.
Laura Coriddi talks through a window with her mother Emma Sahl at Northgate Healthcare facility in North Tonawanda, New York on March 6, 2021.
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the request for tests in Steuben County.

The allegations of preferential treatment will be part of an ongoing impeachment investigation into Cuomo — originally launched amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct lodged by several women.

Additionally, state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) has filed a formal ethics complaint over the allegation.

Emails obtained by The Post through the Freedom of Information Law show that Steuben County wasn’t the only jurisdiction to have a request for more stringent testing in nursing homes denied.

In mid-April 2020, officials in Onondaga County drafted a proposed emergency order that would empower them to mandate testing of employees in county nursing homes.

Nursing home residents wait on line for the COVID-19 vaccine at Harlem Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Harlem, New York on Jan. 15, 2021.
Nursing home residents wait on line for the COVID-19 vaccine at Harlem Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Harlem, New York on Jan. 15, 2021.
AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

They submitted the proposed order to state DOH officials for approval on April 15 — and received a response rejecting it the very next day, without an explicit explanation for the ruling, email correspondences obtained by The Post show.

Less than a month later, however, on May 10, Cuomo mandated that all nursing home staff statewide be given diagnostic tests twice weekly.

The governor handed down that directive as he quietly issued a partial reversal of an infamous March 25 mandate forbidding nursing homes from turning away residents on the sole basis of a coronavirus diagnosis.

The March order, which took effect even as Cuomo publicly acknowledged COVID-19’s threat to seniors, has dogged the governor throughout the pandemic.

Also at issue is the administration’s accounting of the sky-high death tolls in nursing homes.

A damning report issued in January by state Attorney General Letitia James found that the administration may have underreported the number of coronavirus deaths among nursing home residents by as much as 50 percent.

And the next month, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa was caught on an audio recording admitting to top state Democrats that the administration obscured the true toll because it feared a federal probe.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

Source link



[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
Getty Images

The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

US

One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending