Now that heavily financed news organizations like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The City are falling over themselves with “exclusives” on how Governor Andrew Cuomo has completely botched the state’s oversight of nursing homes, I’m moving ahead of that curve and urging Cuomo to fire State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Howard Zucker.
As a media marine outlet with boots on the ground, KingsCounty Politics broke the first story of the dead lying unattended in nursing homes and has been on the issue with follow-ups ever since. This includes a story on how the Trump Administration, no less, gave repeated documented directives to the states, including New York, concerning the coronavirus handling of nursing homes.
To mention anything good about Donald Trump in this one-party media city must come with a disclaimer. Mine is that I’m politically purple. I’m not ride-or-die for any political party or elected official, but look at politics and government on a case-by-case basis and not through a blanket judgment lens.
Now, that the shoe on the Cuomo Administration’s culpability regarding nursing homes has dropped, I’m waiting for the other footwear to drop – the Cuomo Administration’s lack of oversight of the death care industry – also under the DOH and Zucker.
As KCP first reported, funeral directors and others in this industry have all been begging the DOH to come up with some directives and plans to deal with all the dead. It took Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – an ex-cop – to come up with a plan to store the bodies piling up in funeral homes while the DOH remains missing in action.
While it’s always risky to change horses in pandemic midstream, KCP notes that Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont fired his Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell on Monday.
I’m urging Cuomo to follow suit and dismiss Zucker. At best, the commissioner is over his head in COVID crisis management or asleep at the wheel. At worst, he has been extremely negligent. Either way, we can ill afford this kind of public servant, especially during these uncertain times.
Stephen Witt is founder and Editor-in-Chief of KingsCountyPolitics.com, QueensCountyPolitics.com and NewYorkCountyPolitics.com. This is his opinion and does not reflect the views of other editorial staff at these media outlets.