What to Know
- Sen. Rand Paul said Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York "ought to be impeached" over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic
- Paul blasted the governor's decision to send recovering patients back into nursing homes and said the New York's low caseloads in recent weeks was because of herd immunity, not social distancing measures
- Cuomo, who held his daily news conference around the same time as Paul's Fox News appearance, hasn't responded
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on Thursday called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be impeached over his handling of the surge of coronavirus cases in and around New York City earlier this year.
In an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Paul said that the rest of the country shouldn't model its COVID-19 response after the Empire State, specifically calling out the Democratic governor's decision to send recovering patients back into nursing homes in March and April and the state's death rate.
"I don't think there is a lot in New York that we can look to and say oh, that’s what we should model after," he said. "In fact, I really think Governor Cuomo ought to be impeached for the worst public policy, public health decision maybe in a century, sending patients with coronavirus back to nursing homes."
Earlier this month, state officials said 6,300 recovering patients were sent back into their nursing homes in March and April. Cuomo reversed the policy in May, but he and state health officials contended that it was infected nursing home staffers, not released patients, that caused the virus to spread through the facilities.
Paul, however, didn't buy the assertion - saying that the policy made things "hugely worse."
"Almost half the people who died in New Jersey and New York died because of that public policy decision and died in nursing homes," he said.
On Thursday, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi called Paul's statements on nursing homes "sad partisan attacks with no basis in reality," adding that the senator was retaliating after Cuomo called out his state for taking more money than it gives to the federal government yesterday in a conference call with reporters.
"A DOH study showed the bulk of the fatalities occurred before the department of health issued their March 25 order, the result of it most likely being brought in by staffers, a scenario that now playing out in hard-hit states," Azzopardi said.
The Republican -- an opthamologist before his political career -- also took aim at New York's lockdown and reopening policies, saying it was "herd immunity," and not the things Cuomo is "going to do through Big Brother to make us safe again," that were keeping the state's cases, hospitalizations and deaths down.
"I think the one story people are missing is, amidst this resurgence or surge in the disease, New York has very few deaths and very few new cases," Paul said. "It has nothing to do with the lockdown. I believe that it has a great deal to do with the level of immunity they have achieved."
Epidemiologists have said that roughly 60 to 70 percent of a population would need to be infected with the virus to achieve so-called herd immunity; surveys indicated that somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of people who got antibody tests in New York had positive results.
Paul didn't dispute the numbers, but pointed to other regions in Europe that saw surges in cases earlier this year, including Sweden - which famously didn't impose strict lockdowns - and northern Italy.
"Areas where you have had this great rise in cases, a lot of deaths, actually achieved a certain amount of immunity and I think are going to be suffering a lot less," he said. Unfortunately, until we have a vaccine, Florida and Texas death rates will continue but it's important to keep in perspective that they're about ten times better than New York state."
Cuomo didn't address Paul's comments at his daily press briefing, which started moments after the senator's interview aired on Fox News. Azzopardi later blamed the Trump administration for not halting air travel from Europe for the hard hit New York took. Epidemiologists say that the virus got to the the city via Europe, not China, where the first outbreak of COVID-19 began.
What we did do is put into place a successful fact- and number based reopening that has been praised by Dr. Fauci that has helped tame the beast in New York while it's spiking in virtually the rest of the nation," Azzopardi said.