Nearly half of New Yorkers critical of Cuomo’s handling of nursing home crisis: poll

A new survey indicates that a slight plurality of New Yorkers give Gov. Andrew Cuomo a thumbs down on how he’s been dealing with elder care facilities in his state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Forty-eight percent of New York State registered voters give the three-term Democratic governor a negative review – with 44 percent giving him a positive one – according to a Siena College poll released Wednesday.

A health department mandate issued on March 25 required that all nursing homes in the state readmit residents who had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Roughly 5,800 confirmed or presumed deaths from the coronavirus have been reported in New York’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. That’s approximately one-fifth of all coronavirus fatalities in the state.

The soaring death toll in the state’s nursing homes has grabbed national headlines and put a spotlight on the governor, who earlier in the coronavirus crisis grabbed tons of positive attention for the way he was handling his state’s response to the outbreak and for his daily briefings on the pandemic.

Cuomo has twice pointed toward federal guidelines for the controversial directive. The order has been partially altered to prevent hospitals from discharging COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes – while requiring that staff at the facilities be tested twice per week for the coronavirus.

There’s been a chorus of calls by state lawmakers for independent investigations into how the March 25 directive may have impacted the skyrocketing death toll at the nursing homes.

The poll indicates a partisan divide – with 54 percent of Democrats viewing Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home crisis positively and 55 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents giving him a thumbs down.

Cuomo’s sky-high ratings on his overall handling of the coronavirus outbreak have started to edge down slightly – from 84 percent approval in April to 76 percent in May. And his overall approval rating as governor has dropped from 71 percent last month to 63 percent now. Likewise, his favorable rating has dropped 11 points, from 77 percent to 66 percent.

“Cuomo’s stratospheric ratings from New Yorkers in April have fallen from their record highs but remain very strong as two-thirds of voters still view him favorably,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.

New York’s the state hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more than 20,000 people dying due to the virus.

The poll shows that nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers say that loosening coronavirus restrictions too quickly could further spread the virus and lead to more deaths – while 32 percent say the bigger threat is moving too slowly to reopen the state’s economy.

Nearly 9 in 10 questioned in the survey approve of Cuomo’s guidance to wear masks in public when social distancing isn’t possible.

The Siena College poll was conducted May 17-21, with 796 registered voters in New York state questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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