September 18, 2020
From Senator Tom O’Mara:
State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), the ranking member on the Senate Investigations Committee, today renewed his call for an independent investigation into how New York’s COVID-19 response impacted nursing homes, where at least 6,500 elderly New Yorkers have died over the past six months.
O’Mara and his Senate GOP colleagues have also launched a new online petition to allow their constituents to help join the fight for an independent investigation. The new petition can be found on O’Mara’s Senate website, omara.nysenate.gov.
According to O’Mara, joint, bipartisan Senate-Assembly hearings on August 3 and August 10 failed to satisfy many state lawmakers that top Cuomo administration officials are fully answering questions on the crisis, including the exact number of nursing home deaths.
O’Mara said, “I and many other legislators, on both sides of the aisle, have continued to push for an independent investigation into this crisis and tragedy since April. Thousands of lives have been lost and too many questions have been raised, and remain unanswered, to have in-house Cuomo administration reports be the final word. An independent investigation is warranted and necessary for the families who have lost loved ones, the caregivers who put themselves at risk, and to ensure better and safer policies moving forward. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
O’Mara currently co-sponsors legislation (S8756), which has bipartisan support and is sponsored by a Democratic Assembly member from New York City, to establish an independent, bipartisan, temporary commission that would be able to issue subpoenas to compel testimony and fully investigate and issue a report on the COVID-19 nursing home crisis – particularly on how state policies and directives impacted the spread of the coronavirus within nursing homes and other residential care facilities.
In May, an in-house state Department of Health (DOH) report pinned the blame for the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes on infected staff and downplayed the consequences of a March 25 DOH directive that many point to for having required nursing homes to accept elderly COVID-positive patients being released from hospitals back into their facilities.