ALBANY — Hospitals will now be prohibited from discharging patients into nursing homes unless they test negative for the COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday.
“We’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit, period,” Cuomo said.
Starting this week, nursing homes will also be required to test staff twice a week.
“We have the tests available,” Cuomo said.
The new safeguards come as the state continues to face backlash over mounting deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities, which have surpassed 5,000 statewide.
But the directive doesn’t override a controversial March 25 order banning nursing homes from accepting positive patients — they just can’t come from hospitals.
The order, Cuomo said, will help relieve the burden on nursing homes struggling to combat the virus.
The state previously took back a policy allowing positive employees to work if they were asymptomatic.
Cuomo defended the state’s handling of the pandemic sweeping through nursing homes, reiterating that any facility who felt as if it could not care for a patient, whether due to staffing shortages or inadequate isolation units, should have notified the state Department of Health and requested a transfer.
Nursing homes who cannot transfer patients will lose their license, he said.
Despite early concerns about hospitals being overwhelmed, the state has enough space at COVID-only facilities to house those patients.
“We have always had more beds than we needed,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo pointed out New York has the highest nursing home population in the nation but ranks 34th in nursing home fatalities.
Twelve percent of virus-related deaths have been at nursing homes compared to 81 percent in West Virginia, he said.
“None of this is good news, but it’s just to give you context of what people are looking at,” Cuomo said.
The number of daily fatalities reported on Saturday is the lowest since March 27, the early days of the crisis.
Of the 207 deaths reported, 43 were at nursing homes.
And with daily hospitalizations on Saturday at 521, the number is the lowest since March 20.
Cuomo also announced on Sunday the state Department of Health has partnered with CDC in a Remdesivir trial to treat the virus. Currently, 2,900 people are receiving treatment at 15 hospitals, a number officials hope will ramp up in coming days.