ALBANY, N.Y. (CBS) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday addressed the state’s early response to the coronavirus outbreak and said “nobody” should be prosecuted for the those who died, noting that “older people” were most vulnerable. The governor has been criticized for a decision in March, which has since been reversed, to send patients back to nursing homes after they tested positive for COVID-19.
More than 4,800 people died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in the state between March 1 and May 1, according to a tally released by the Cuomo administration on May 1. Cuomo has called nursing homes a “feeding frenzy” for the coronavirus.
“Despite whatever you do, because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive,” Cuomo said.
The number of deaths in New York state dropped again Saturday to 139 people. When asked about the nursing home deaths, Cuomo noted the 139 people who died on Saturday and asked who is accountable for everyone who died.
“How do we get justice for those families of those 139 deaths?” Cuomo said. “Who can we prosecute for those 139 deaths? Nobody. Mother Nature, God, where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus, that is the truth.”
When pressed further about how some people thought their loved ones would be safe because of Matilda’s Law, Cuomo continued to stress the point that older and more vulnerable people were “always going to die from this virus.” He said when talking who is accountable for deaths, the most important thing was to make sure “you can have a situation where everyone did the right thing and everyone tried their best.”
Cuomo said his top priority was making sure the medical system did not get overwhelmed, calling that a “accountable, avoidable situation.”
“That’s what we protected against and we did it successfully,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo pushed for all New Yorkers who have symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. He said New York is now conducting 40,000 tests per day at 700 testing sites.
“If you think you have symptoms, get a test. It’s up to you,” he said. “We just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested.”
In the middle of the briefing, a doctor with full PPE came out and administered a nasal swap test to Cuomo. He later joked that reporters will know the test came back positive if he doesn’t show up Monday.