Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that the New York State Health Department and Attorney General Letitia James will begin investigating nursing home novel coronavirus compliance.
The announcement comes after reports of nursing home staff under-reporting novel coronavirus cases and deaths. By law, nursing homes must provide staff personal protective equipment like masks, gowns, and gloves, and conduct regular temperature checks. Violators could face fines or lose their licenses.
Once a nursing home resident tests positive for the novel coronavirus, staff members are required to isolate them in quarantine and transfer residents or staff other facilities. Staff members must also notify all residents and family members within 24 hours if a resident becomes infected or dies because of the virus.
Nursing homes are able to readmit coronavirus positive residents but only if they have the ability to provide an adequate level of care.
“This is a crisis situation for nursing homes, they are under a lot of pressure,” said the governor during his daily novel coronavirus briefing in Albany. “We get it, but they still have to perform their job and do their job by the rules and regulations.”
The governor’s announcement came shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a surge of supplies and staff would be sent to nursing homes across the city.
This week, weekly shipments of personal protective equipment by 50 % to nursing homes adding to the over 40,000 N-95 masks, 800,00 surgical masks, 40,000 face shields and 1.5 million gloves and the 105,000 gowns city agencies have sent to nursing homes last week.
Mayor de Blasio’s office said that 420 healthcare personnel would be sent to 40 nursing homes citywide as well.
In addition to providing PPE and clinical staff, the City has provided nursing homes with up-to-date guidance on isolation and testing procedures. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has continued to work with providers to implement this guidance and troubleshoot as necessary.
City officials are creating a task force to work with about half of all nursing homes to collect data on staffing, PPE stockpiles and management to keep tabs needs.