A silver casket was wheeled to the front of a Brooklyn nursing home Sunday — and 6,500 copies of the cover of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new book were dumped into it in protest of his COVID-19 policies.
The number of covers was equal to the roughly 6,500 people who have been reported killed by the coronavirus in nursing homes in the state — although the ralliers said they believe the figure is much higher.
“My mother-in-law got COVID in an elder-care facility but died in a hospital, [so] her number does not count’’ in New York’s nursing-home tally, said Janice Dean, a meteorologist for TV’s “Fox & Friends’’ who was among the roughly 50 protesters outside the Cobble Hill Health Center.
“At the very beginning, I wouldn’t have blamed anyone,’’ she said of her kin’s death. “We were in the middle of a pandemic.
“But then I saw the governor on CNN and the various talk shows talking about his love life and talking about how he brought the curve down to nothing.”
The first thing he should have said was, “I’m sorry for your loss,’’ Dean said.
Protesters have mainly ripped Cuomo’s March 25 mandate that prevented nursing homes, with their vulnerable populations, from turning away coronavirus-positive patients.
Cuomo acknowledged at a COVID-19 press briefing earlier Sunday that in hindsight, his administration could have done better to protect people when asked about nursing homes.
“But can anyone say that a virus that targets the weak and the seniors, [that] we can keep them safe? Nobody can say that,’’ he said.
Cuomo said the early spread of COVID-19 in New York nursing homes was the result of asymptomatic workers and visitors. At that time, the federal government was saying the virus was only spread by people with symptoms, he said.
The governor said that to remain unscathed, nursing homes would have to be in “a hermetically sealed bubble.’’
The governor also contended that New York has “the most aggressive nursing-home’’ policy in the country when it comes to trying to prevent the spread of the virus, including mandated weekly testing of every worker.
His book, called “American Crisis” and released Oct. 13, was described in its press release as a “remarkable portrait of leadership during crisis and a gritty story of gut-wrenching choices that point the way to a safer future for us all.”
But Brooklyn protest organizer Peter Arbeeny griped at the rally — where about a dozen people added photos of their lost loved ones to the casket — that Cuomo “hasn’t given us an independent investigation [into the alleged nursing-home debacle] so we can get to the truth.
“The families in front of you deserve to know the truth,” said Arbeeny, whose 89-year-old Korean War veteran father, Norman, was among the at least 56 people to die from COVID-19 at the Brooklyn facility.
“We are all COVID orphans now,” he said.
“And if somebody made a mistake — and with it all that was going on, it was a crazy time — we would forgive.
“Maybe somebody wouldn’t forgive, but we would forgive. You get a sincere apology when truth comes out, and then we all know, and then we can move on. And we can celebrate the good things.”