With the initial Covid-19 surge in cases and mortality in the rearview mirror (thankfully) for both New York and Florida, we finally have a clearer picture of the outcomes in states that took very different policy approaches — especially when it came to nursing homes.

Overall, 32,585 have died in New York as of this writing, and 11,870 have died in Florida.

In both states, deaths were highly concentrated among the elderly at about 80% of all deaths. But within that population, on a per capita basis, New York had almost four times the number of deaths compared to Florida. The mortality rate so far is 815 deaths per 100,000 seniors in New York versus 229 deaths per 100,000 seniors in Florida.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced nursing homes in his state to accept COVID-19 patients, issuing an executive order on March 25, knowing those facilities could not treat them. His actions infected the most vulnerable populations in the state with the deadly virus and was in direct violation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance.

The guidance directed nursing homes to only admit COVID patients if “the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions” and to keep only those COVID-infected patients for which they could safely care for.

In contrast, Florida did the opposite, not transferring infected patients to nursing homes, and even with the additional protections, still 4,800 seniors died from assisted living facilities there — underscoring just how important those precautions are.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma on May 21 noted, “In the guidance, CMS urged nursing homes to dedicate a specific wing to patients moving to, or arriving from, a hospital, where they could remain for 14 days with no symptoms.”

The bottom line is despite having 1.1 million more seniors in Florida, New York had nearly four times the number of senior deaths per capita from the virus.


Catherine Mortensen is the Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government, a conservative advocacy group.