Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is taking extra measures to protect the elderly against COVID-19.
This comes after the Empire State has received backlash for a measure that was implemented in March, which required nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients.
The policy was intended to help free up hospital beds for the sickest patients.
Since then, New York has seen more than 5,000 deaths inside nursing homes across the state.
Cuomo announced the changes on Sunday. The new order will require nursing home staff members to be tested twice a week and will have stricter guidelines for patients in the facilities.
"Hospitals going forward cannot discharge a patient to a nursing home unless the patient tests negative for COVID-19," Cuomo said. "So, we're just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit, period."
NEW: All nursing home staff must now be tested for COVID twice a week.
⁰This rule is not optional — it’s mandatory.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 10, 2020
Senior citizens are considered to be the most vulnerable population in danger of dying from COVID-19. According to New York state health officials, 85 percent of COVID-19 deaths are among people ages 60 and above.
New York has the highest number of nursing home deaths in the country.
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The governor has also extended the State of Emergency, which allows certain executive orders to remain in effect, until June 6.
But the "NY on Pause" order is still set to expire on May 15. The order prohibits unnecessary gatherings of any size and required that all non-essential businesses remain closed.
Cuomo's secretary Melissa DeRosa tweeted, "NY on PAUSE was NOT extended to June 6th -- the State of Emergency that allows each of the executive orders to remain in effect was extended to June 6th. Exec Order 202.18 was not modified -- the text of the order pertaining to NY on PAUSE remains May 15th."
NY on PAUSE was NOT extended to June 6th -- the State of Emergency that allows each of the executive orders to remain in effect was extended to June 6th
Exec Order 202.18 was not modified -- the text of the order pertaining to NY on PAUSE remains May 15th https://t.co/OGZjeFVsGr
— Melissa DeRosa (@melissadderosa) May 10, 2020
Cuomo has emphasized that reopening New York City must be a slow and organized process, avoiding missteps that could bring a surge of new COVID-19 cases.