If We Had an Effective Federal Response to COVID-19…

…then what Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did would be grounds for resignation (boldface mine):

Gilmore said they told her that a resident in the home had recently gone to the hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19. The resident was set to return to Diamond Hill, making her the first confirmed COVID-19 case at the 120-bed facility north of Albany.

The risks to the home’s staff and other residents were obvious: The virus was ravaging nursing homes across the country.

But the week before, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, had all but made such discharges mandatory. If a hospital determined a patient who needed nursing home care was medically stable, the home had to accept them, even if they had been treated for COVID-19. Moreover, the nursing home could not test any such prospective residents — those treated for COVID-19 or those hospitalized for other reasons — to see if they were newly infected or perhaps still contagious despite their treatment. It was all laid out in a formal order, effective March 25. New York was the only state in the nation that barred testing of those being placed or returning to nursing homes.

In the weeks that followed the March 25 order, COVID-19 tore through New York state’s nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people — about 6% of its more than 100,000 nursing home residents. In all, as many as 4,500 COVID-19 infected patients were sent to nursing homes across the state, according to a count conducted by The Associated Press….

States that issued orders similar to Cuomo’s recorded comparably grim outcomes. Michigan lost 5% of roughly 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19 since the outbreak began. New Jersey lost 12% of its more than 43,000 residents.

In Florida, where such transfers were barred, just 1.6% of 73,000 nursing home residents died of the virus. California, after initially moving toward a policy like New York’s, quickly revised it. So far, it has lost 2% of its 103,000 nursing home residents.

While they were attempting to free up ICU beds, it was pretty obvious that the state’s solution was worse:

“The New York state advisory looks like it was intended as a ‘reverse triage’ strategy to clear acute and critical care hospital beds, regardless of whether those beds had people with COVID-19 or not,” Branas said. “Possibly, the positive trade-off they had in mind with the policy was that more lives would be saved with additional open critical care beds than would be lost in transfer to nursing homes.”

But Branas said he believes the policy could well have increased New York’s COVID-19 death toll by a magnitude that will be determined by future researchers. “If you introduce 4,500 people sick with a potentially lethal disease into a vulnerable and notoriously imperfectly monitored population,” he said, “people are apt to die.”

Yes, in an ideal world, nursing homes would have good infection control. Meanwhile, here on planet Earth, many of them do not–and that is well-known.

At this point, the Trump administration has politicized the COVID-19 response to the point where Cuomo’s willingness to criticize Trump looks like courage and is much needed. But in a sane polity, Cuomo’s horrifying–and predicted–failure would be grounds for resignation: governance has to matter, and Cuomo was very bad at it–along with many other state governors (and we told you long ago Cuomo was an asshole).

That said, the magnitude of Trump and his cabinet’s failure is that resigning their offices is the compromise position, and ritual self-disembowelment on the White House lawn is the appropriate one.

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