Two medical workers transport an elderly man from the Cobble Hill nursing home in Brooklyn to a nearby hospital amid the coronavirus crisis on April 24, 2020.

Braulio Jatar / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial March 25 order that required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients was deleted from the state of New York’s website, Fox News reported.

On May 10, Cuomo released new guidance that prohibited hospitals from sending people who tested positive for COVID-19 back to nursing homes, though his administration said the new guidance added to — but did not replace — the original order. 

At least 5,800 people have died in New York nursing homes and adult care facilities.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 25 order that required nursing homes to admit patients who were suspected to have or had tested positive for COVID-19 has been deleted from the state of New York’s website, Fox News reported Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the state of New York’s website displayed an error message, stating the “page that you are looking for is not found,” in place of a link to the original document. The March 25 order is only accessible through an archived version of the webpage, posted by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. 

Before Cuomo released new guidance on May 10, mandating that hospitals could not send COVID-19 positive patients back to nursing homes until they tested negative for the virus, the controversial order stated that “no resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”

The order also said nursing homes and adult facilities were “prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.” 

Cuomo’s office told Fox News that the state Department of Health regularly updates its website to avoid confusion, though his office insisted the May 10 order was not a backtrack of its previous order, according to Fox News. It is unclear if Cuomo’s office or the state’s health department had a role in the removal of the March document.

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Peter Ajemian, Cuomo’s senior communications director, told Fox News that the May 10 guidance did not replace the March 25 order.

“DOH posted updated guidance that builds on the original March 25 guidance which barred nursing homes from discriminating against COVID patients,” Ajemian said. “As we said at the time, the updated guidance didn’t supersede the March 25th guidance – rather, it added a new requirement that says hospitals cannot discharge patients to nursing homes until they test negative.”

He added: “Then and now, nursing homes cannot discriminate against COVID patients and they cannot accept patients if they aren’t able to provide adequate care, including staff screenings, PPE, and infection control measures like cohorting.”

The March 25 order has been criticized for its role in increasing deaths and infections in New York nursing homes, which house populations at high risk of the most serious symptoms and side effects of COVID-19.  

“It was the single dumbest decision anyone could make if they wanted to kill people,” Daniel Arbeeny, whose 88-year-old father died of COVID-19 after he removed him from a Brooklyn nursing facility, told the Associated Press.

As the AP reported, Cuomo reportedly ordered over 4,300 recovering COVID-19 patients to be sent to nursing homes. At least 5,800 people have died of COVID-19 in New York State nursing homes or adult care facilities.

Cuomo has defended his March order and said he was just following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a previous Business Insider report. 

“New York followed the president’s agencies’ guidance,” Cuomo said during a press conference on Saturday. “What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do. That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”

The office of Gov. Cuomo and New York Department of Health did not immediately return Busines Insider’s request for comment. 

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