“Flawed assumptions” about overcrowded hospitals led states like New York to order coronavirus-postive patients into nursing homes during the early days of the pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told “Life, Liberty, & Levin.”
“We looked at the data that we had from other parts of the world as we were getting into March, and we saw that this was a virus that had a disproportionate impact on elderly people and we’re the second-oldest state in the country, so that was something that was obviously very concerning to us,” the Republican told host Mark Levin.
DeSantis explained that state officials took “action to protect vulnerable people as best as they could.”
“One of the things we did, I think, before any other state was protect nursing homes. So we prevented people from visiting for a time,” DeSantis said.
“But then, I think more importantly, we barred hospitals from discharging sick nursing home residents back into the nursing homes,” he added. “As you know, other states did the opposite and ordered those patients back. We viewed that as something that would be very hazardous.”
The full interview with DeSantis airs Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel.
In addition to being the third-most populous state in the country, DeSantis pointed out, 4.5 million Florida residents — nearly a quarter of the state’s population, are over the age of 65.
“At the time, there was actually a lot of movement to send the nursing home residents back because people said, ‘Oh, you’re going to run out of hospital beds, you’ve got to clear the hospitals,’ and I looked at a lot of those models … and I didn’t think that they were worth the paper they were printed on. They were based on flawed assumptions,” he said. “They were not being validated in real time by what we were observing on the ground in Florida. So I said, ‘You know what? If I have to build field hospitals all across the state, I will do that before I send these patients back into nursing homes and endanger all these elderly people.'”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under investigation for his handling of the pandemic after thousands of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes across the state.
Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James said nursing home COVID-19 deaths in the state were undercounted by as much as 50%. Matters escalated after a top aide to Cuomo told state Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld data on nursing home deaths out of concern over a federal investigation.
Last year, Cuomo directed New York nursing home to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19. The decision created an onslaught of COVID-19 cases in thousands of elderly patients and resulted in hundreds of deaths among the state’s most vulnerable population.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.