NY Health Commissioner Zucker testifies before legislators | WHEC.com

NY Health Commissioner Zucker testifies before legislators

Updated: February 25, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: February 25, 2021 10:16 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For several hours Thursday, New York lawmakers challenged the state's health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, on the Cuomo administration's lack of transparency regarding covid outbreaks at nursing homes.

Zucker began by saying that the administration has done all it can to provide the most accurate and transparent information possible, all along. 

State lawmakers grilled him on the March 25 directive, to put COVID-19 positive patients back in nursing homes.  

Once again, he doubled down on the claim that staff members brought covid into nursing homes, not COVID-19 positive residents. He went on to say 37,000 nursing home staff members had covid and unknowingly brought it into the facilities where they worked.  

He said lawmakers are ignoring the fact that someone is contagious 48 hours prior to showing symptoms. Then, you have to consider if a person in their 90s wakes up sick one morning, they're not rushed to the hospital right away, they usually stay at their nursing home for a few days before being taken to the hospital, and once they're at the hospital they are usually there a few days. So considering that timeline, Zucker said it wasn't contagious residents bringing the virus into nursing homes.

"It came in through inadvertent spread by the staff asymptomatic spread at a time when we were unaware of how this virus spread, that's the first part," Zucker said. "It was in the nursing homes. It was in 98% of the nursing homes in 98 plus percent of the nursing homes prior to any person being readmitted from a hospital to a nursing home, that's number two. Number three is how the disease is actually spread and incubation periods and at what point is someone actually contagious from the disease."

Perhaps the bluntest and most confrontational questions came from Sen. Jim Tedisco (R, NY-49), but he went over his time so Zucker was not allowed to answer, but said he would clarify through writing.

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