For months, Janice Dean, senior meteorologist at Fox News and an author, has been searching for answers for her family and many others in New York about the role a March 25 policy, instituted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, played in the deaths of her in-laws and thousands of others in nursing home facilities after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today, she received some answers from the New York Attorney General.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The “Nursing Home Policy”

On March 25, 2020, the state of New York directed nursing homes to readmit “medically stable” COVID-19 patients to their facilities. The goal of the order was to free up space in hospitals, even though this could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 among a population that is highly vulnerable to the virus.

On May 10, 2020, Cuomo reversed the policy in an executive order and required that nursing home residents receive a negative test from the hospital before they are released back to their facilities. This followed weeks of backlash for the initial order.

The New York Department of Health estimates that, in that month and a half, 6,326 COVID-positive patients were readmitted into nursing homes throughout the state. That same report, however, denies that the March 25 policy contributed to the death toll in nursing homes; that claim has been disputed for a range of reasons, including that the methodology the report used to assess that claim is “pretty flawed.”

Dean has been at the forefront of voices asking for an investigation into the role the order played in the deaths of nursing home residents and the cover-up from Cuomo’s administration.

Janice Dean’s Calls for Transparency

Dean lost her in-laws, both living in separate New York elder care facilities at the time, to COVID in the weeks following Cuomo’s policy (she pays a beautiful tribute to their lives and highlights her family’s story in this article). Since, she has been asking for answers and accountability about the policy.

And she’s been loud.

Dean has appeared as a guest on programs from Tucker Carlson Tonight to Fox and Friends to make her voice heard. She has written several articles for Fox News about her questions and accusations against the governor. She speaks out on social media, and she has been active in person at rallies.

Dean also spoke before New York state lawmakers in August to demand answers. This appearance came after she was refused her previously secured spot at a different hearing because she made the Democratic lawmakers “uncomfortable.”

This fight is one Dean says she never intended to be part of, but she has committed to it all the same, knowing she and many others deserve answers, and that government officials must be held accountable for their policies and actions. Especially those which cost lives.

All through her advocacy, Dean has made herself clear: this isn’t about politics. It’s about getting answers and holding elected officials accountable.

What Does Cuomo Say?

In the time since the institution of the nursing home order and well after its reversal, Cuomo repeatedly cast doubt on his knowledge of the policy, the execution of the policy, and the danger of the policy. He brushed off attacks on the order as being political in nature, and he cited the (questionable) assessment put out by his Department of Health as evidence of his innocence in the matter.

Cuomo not only denies that his policy led to the deaths of nursing home residents, but he has repeatedly praised himself for the work he did during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wrote a book, entitled “American Crisis,” about his leadership skills during the pandemic. He also was awarded an Emmy “in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”

It’s worth noting that Cuomo took his victory lap far too early–the book was released in October, but a second wave of COVID-19 hit the state just weeks later as he was accepting his Emmy. Cuomo then delivered a blow to the restaurant industry and shut down indoor dining once more at the beginning of December. We won’t delve into the disaster of his vaccine rollout, but you can read about that here (and Dean’s response here). Needless to say, Cuomo’s “leadership” throughout this pandemic leaves something to be desired.

“She’s not a credible source on anything except maybe the weather.”

But Dean has been tireless. She continues to appear on television and demand answers. She fearlessly calls out Cuomo and his enablers–even when it puts her in the line of fire.

While Cuomo has largely cast off his dissenters as politically motivated, the governor’s spokesman recently responded to Dean’s criticisms and said of her: “She’s not a credible source on anything except maybe the weather.”

But Dean has shown herself time and time again to be sharp, well-read, and well-spoken on the subject–not to mention, a credible first-hand source as a family who has experienced loss during this time. The comment is, at the very least, insensitive and utterly false and, at its worst sexist. It’s also rich coming from the administration of a governor who claims that he wants to see women “succeed.” It’s evident at this point that Cuomo wants success only for those who help advance his narcissistic agenda. Those who speak against his “leadership” and seek success in their own agendas must be bullied into silence–including the women for whom he claims to be an advocate.

The Answers–In Part

On January 28, 2021, answers to the questions Dean has given voice to over the last eight months have come, at least in part, from the New York Attorney General.

Attorney General Letitia James released a report after an investigation found that the number reported by the New York Department of Health concerning the death toll among nursing home residents could be up to 50% higher than originally reported. Even more, of the March 25 policy, The Office of the Attorney General wrote today:

“Government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.”

The bottom line? Dean is right. There’s more answers to come, but this is surely a win for Dean and the thousands of families that want answers. 

We’re cheering her on as she continues to raise her voice and hold her governor accountable.

(And if she decides to challenge Cuomo for governor in 2022, we’ve got her back, too!)

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ and current communications student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She enjoys writing, reading, and serving others.

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