Alexander's Column

Cuomo's Latest Blunder — $69 Million for What?

While Cuomo is busy trying to cover up his disastrous decision to force coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes...

Mark Alexander · May 5, 2020

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is seeking to prosecute companies scamming state and local governments in need of CV19 personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical-care supplies. He has issued disaster scam and fraud alerts, as have numerous other members of Congress, and federal and state agencies.

That notwithstanding, Andrew Cuomo, still busy trying to cover up his disastrous decision to push coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes, has again demonstrated his incompetence by sending $69.1 million from New York’s state treasury to a huckster in California.

Through 30 April, Cuomo had authorized a total of 77 checks for more than $1 million for medical appliances and supplies — most to companies with no experience producing those supplies, but the $69 million check was the largest single payment made by Cuomo’s administration to any contractor for such supplies.

How did that happen?

Well, back in March, after President Donald Trump had invoked the Defense Production Act to authorize GM and Ford to produce ICU ventilators, he posted a message on social media: “Start making ventilators now!” One of his 80,000 followers, a troll named Yaron Oren-Pines, who is a former employee of Google with no experience producing ventilators, posted a response: “We can supply ICU Ventilators, invasive and noninvasive. Have someone call me URGENT.”

A few days before Trump’s post, Cuomo had urgently claimed, “I need 30,000 ventilators — how can you have New Yorkers possibly dying because they can’t get a ventilator?” One of his chief administrators heard about the social-media response, contacted Oren-Pines, and hastily signed a contract for 1,450 ventilators for $47,656 per unit — three times the cost of the best ventilators — and three days later sent him advanced payment.

According to New York’s Office of General Services, it took a month for somebody to figure out this was a scam and, predictably, they blamed Trump for the Cuomo administration’s incompetence. According to an unnamed New York state official, the contract was the result of a “direct recommendation” from the Task Force: “The guy was recommended to us by the White House coronavirus task force because they were doing business with him as well.” But a quick check of federal records shows no contract with Oren-Pines.

A spokesperson for the Task Force, Katie Miller, rebutted that assertion: “The White House Coronavirus Task Force was never informed of this contract and was not involved in it at all.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo hosted a press conference Monday, declaring that people who don’t wear masks in public should be cited and penalized. “You wear a mask to protect me. I wear a mask to protect you,” he insisted. “I think there should be a penalty because you could literally kill someone … because you didn’t want to wear a mask. How cruel and irresponsible would that be?” Cuomo was not wearing a mask at the briefing…

Update

On 05 May, New York authorities reported an additional 1700 deaths of nursing home patients. New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin aptly summed up Cuomo’s “leadership” in regard to the nursing home deaths: “Two weeks ago, Cuomo was first asked about his policy that forced nursing homes to admit patients infected with the coronavirus. "That’s a good question, I don’t know,” the governor answered, turning to an aide. On Tuesday, Cuomo was asked about [the addition of] 1,700 deaths to the count of those who died in nursing homes, bringing the total to at least 4,813. “I don’t know the details, frankly,” the governor answered, turning to an aide. Sgt. Schultz reporting for duty!“

On 10 May, In a press conference, Gov. Cuomo blamed his state health director, Howard Zucker, for implementing the deadly policy that nursing homes must admit patients with CV19 disease – six weeks after Cuomo implemented the previous policy. He announced new regulations reversing the policy and Cuomo now insists: "We’re just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. This virus uses nursing homes. They are ground zero. It’s a congregation of vulnerable people.”

(Visit our comprehensive China Virus Pandemic response and recovery page, and see our related pages.

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