Ex-NY gov rips Cuomo over nursing home coronavirus deaths: 'What happened in ... in my mind, was a disgrace'

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Former New York Gov. George Pataki had strong words for current Gov. Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus response Friday, calling the death toll in New York's nursing homes a "disgrace."

The Republican told "The Story with Martha MacCallum" that Cuomo should have ordered elderly and vulnerable patients to be taken to field hospitals set up at the Javits Center in Manhattan or the USNS Comfort in the Hudson River.

"I know Andrew Cuomo is one of the most popular politicians in America today. He has his briefings that are calm and informative," Pataki said. "But when you look at the job that he is not doing when it comes to nursing homes, those beds should have been used to put the most vulnerable in those facilities ... What happened in New York, in my mind, is a disgrace."

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Cuomo's call for help led to the federal government dispatching the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to erect at least four field hospitals, while the Navy deployed the Comfort to New York City.

Critics say the time and money spent by Cuomo to secure the barely used medical facilities was wasted.

Meanwhile, nursing home managers have been left bewildered as to why the empty facilities were not made available for ill and suspected coronavirus patients, who were not able to isolate from others deemed vulnerable to severe infection or death.

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As of Thursday, the New York Department of Health reported that 88 nursing homes had reported at least five confirmed or presumed resident deaths from COVID-19. A total of 1,408 people had died at those facilities.

"New York's policies with nursing homes is incomprehensible ... The Comfort had hundreds of beds waiting to take coroanvirus-positive patients," Pataki said. "In the nursing homes, where the weakest of the aged [and] the most vulnerable were put together, [they] were required to take corona positive patients. It is an incomprehensible policy, and I think someone should look into it."

Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this article.