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“Apologies aren’t meant to change the past, they are meant to change the future.” 

After meeting the New York Governor, I was driving home Tuesday night with Sean and that quote stuck in my mind. Kathy Hochul. After we had been at her Manhattan office rally a few weeks back, when we were advocating for the families of those we lost last spring to COVID in long-term care facilities, we were invited to attend the meeting. 

The meeting was small and closed-door. No photographs were taken in the office.  This was a chance to speak up and make your point.

COVID-19 NURSING HOME DATES IN 2020 MUCH HIGHER THEN PREVIOUSLY THINK: STUDY

This was the first time our family has ever been acknowledged by the governor’s office. After she had walked into the room, she extended her condolences and shaken our hands.

 “I’m sorry for your loss.”

I thanked her for taking the time to sit with us, and find out what we’ve been fighting for all these months.

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On March 25th 2020, former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to admit over 9,000 COVID positive patients into New York nursing homes. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to allow over 9,000 COVID-positive patients to New York’s nursing homes within 46 days.  Cuomo, who was already aware that this could endanger seniors by warning them beforehand about the possibility of the virus spreading through dry grass like a fire, knew it would. 

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It’s still a mystery to us as to why he and his health office decided to light the match.

Cuomo chose to lie, deny, or blame others instead of admitting that this was an awful decision.  While he could’ve met with families or expressed his condolences, the governor decided it was more important to celebrate himself by writing a book and winning an Emmy.

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Many of us grieving relatives wanted to be acknowledged for our grief and pain.  We were instead accused of trying to play politics by wanting to understand why loved ones were in such grave danger. 

Ron Kim was a good friend of mine and fellow advocate from New York State Assemblyman. He died in the nursing home after he succumbed to COVID. 

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His kindness and leadership throughout this entire process has been so much appreciated.  Tuesday’s meeting would never have happened without him. 

Gov. Hochul was kind and generous with her attention.  She wanted to hear from all of us, and listened to our thoughts and concerns about how we can finally start the healing process and the way forward to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Janice Dean's sister-in-law on losing parents to COVID-19 after they were exposed in NY nursing homes Video

Sean is very private and difficult to share his grief with. He could explain to her the pain of losing his parents so quickly without seeing or comforting them. 

Dee and Mickey Newman in an undated family photograph.

He told her how he brought his mom flowers a few days after his father died, but couldn’t hug her. He stood 6 feet from her in her lobby, telling her to hold on. We’d get through this. 

This was his last visit to her before she died from complications of cancer. 

Janice Dean's in-laws Dee and Mickey Newman attend their son Sean's promotion ceremony to battalion chief

My husband and governor sharing the moment brought me back to what it felt like one year and half ago. My emotions of shock, confusion and grief swept over me in such a way that I couldn’t catch my breath.

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As my friend Peter and Daniel Arbeeny spoke about Norman, I was moved to tears. Cuomo’s whitewash of the numbers.  

Alexa Rivera, Haydee Pabey, and Alexa Rivera presented Gov. Hochul photos of Ana’s and Elba’s moms while they share their terrible stories. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters after a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. 

Gov. Hochul stated that her administration will be transparent moving forward.  Hochul gave us the assurance that her administration would cooperate with us. 

She looked at us and thanked for being our strong, unfailing advocates.

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Cuomo wanted everybody to think this was politics. This was never the case. It was not a room with Republicans or Democrats pouring out their hearts.

Human beings were meant to listen to and help those who are in pain.

With a little hope, I left that meeting. That’s something I haven’t had in a long time. 

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However, Governor Hochul’s actions in the days ahead will speak louder than words. 

An apology won’t bring back our loved ones, but it might just change the way things are done going forward to protect other families in the future. 

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