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NY's new governor has given me a glimmer of hope related to COVID nursing home deaths

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

I remembered that quote on Tuesday on my way home with my husband Sean after meeting New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. We were invited to the meeting after the governor saw us at a rally outside her Manhattan office a few weeks ago when we were advocating on behalf of the loved ones we lost to COVID last spring in separate long term care facilities.

It was a small, closed door meeting. There were no pictures taken inside the office. It was simply a moment to finally speak and be heard.This was the first time our family has ever been acknowledged by the governor’s office. As she walked in and shook our hands, she offered her condolences.

"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.

Without any of us knowing on March 25th of 2020 former Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to admit over 9,000 COVID positive patients into New York nursing homes for 46 days. Even Cuomo knew this would endanger our seniors when he pre-emptively warned the virus would "spread like fire through dry grass." It’s still a mystery to us as to why he and his health office decided to light the match.

Instead of being honest, and admitting this was a terrible decision, Cuomo lied, denied, blamed others while covering up the death toll. 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.As grieving family members, many of us wanted some kind of acknowledgement for our pain and grief. Instead, we were accused of playing politics for wanting to know why our loved ones were put in grave danger.

My good friend and fellow advocate New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, who lost his uncle to COVID in a nursing home help arrange the sit down. I am so grateful for his kindness and leadership through all of this. Tuesday’s meeting would never have happened without him.

Gov. Hochul was empathetic and generous with her time. 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.