Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island), who was among those calling for an investigation into nursing home deaths as a result of COVID-19, is outraged after this week’s hearing with state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker was cut short after only two hours of questioning.
In what was supposed to be an opportunity for a thorough inquiry into the Department of Health’s handling of nursing homes, Zucker fielded questions from a handful of legislators and then promptly left before many legislators who have been waiting months for answers had the chance to ask him questions under oath.
“As I’ve been saying for months, the state is incapable of conducting a thorough and truly independent evaluation of the Department of Health’s handling of nursing homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have waited for months to ask the commissioner questions under oath with the hope of getting answers for those we represent. Instead, what should have been an extensive proceeding was swiftly cut short after just two hours, leaving many legislators without an opportunity to have an open exchange with the commissioner. Thousands of our most vulnerable lives were lost, and there must be accountability. The state simply cannot be trusted to investigate itself, this hearing proves it, and that is why we need an independent federal investigation.”
Malliotakis wrote to Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner Zucker on April 30 seeking answers about the protocol followed in the decision to put positive patients into nursing homes, and why, even after facilities like Javits Center, U.S. Navy Ship Comfort, and South Beach Psychiatric Center were set up to take COVID-positive patients, the governor kept his dangerous and controversial executive order in place, mandating that nursing homes accept positive patients. Malliotakis also sought to ask questions about supplies and testing at nursing homes.