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Months from now, if and when we’re finally able to assess the coronavirus pandemic rationally and honestly, it’ll be clear that it was mostly a disaster for the old and the sick. Thirty-year-olds in Brooklyn have made the most noise, flooding the Internet with their neuroses.
But it is old people who have really suffered.
About a third of all deaths in this country so far have occurred in long-term care facilities. We told you a lot about the tragedy unfolding in New York.
As of Friday night, almost 6,000 nursing home residents have died there after Governor Andrew Cuomo forced facilities to admit infected patients.
But it’s not only happening in New York. In New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts for example, deaths in nursing homes account for more than half of the statewide totals.
So, if you’re old and in a facility, this virus has been genuinely dangerous.
But the real story is even worse than that, thanks to bad policies.
Many nursing homes have banned all visits from relatives even those who have tested negative for the coronavirus. That means for millions of aging Americans, lockdowns equal suffering alone, marooned in isolation, away from children and grandchildren, often in the final days of their lives.
It’s hard to imagine anything sadder than that, but in fact, there is something sadder.
No visitors means no real supervision. No one who cares about the elderly can check-in and see how they’re doing. This is an invitation to the most awful kinds of abuse.
Take a look at this video. It’s from the Westwood Nursing Center in Detroit. We warn you — and we don’t say this lightly — it is highly upsetting. We think you should see it because it’s real.
VIDEO: A nursing center worker repeatedly punches an elderly man in a bed.
It goes on like that for 90 seconds, but we’ll spare you.
The monster throwing those punches is 20 years old. The helpless resident he is smashing in the face is 75.
Westwood Nursing Center says it had no idea the assault even happened. The video went up on social media and apparently, it was posted by the proud attacker himself.
People saw it and called the police and they arrested him. He’s in jail tonight.
Police will not tell us his name. It’s not clear why. He deserves to be famous.
What is clear is that the Westwood Nursing Center was a scary place even before this assault took place.
A 2019 Medicare inspection of the facility found that a resident had vomited on a curtain. Two weeks later, Westwood staff still hadn’t replaced or even cleaned it.
Imagine all of what the inspectors didn’t find. We will help you imagine.
This video is from a nursing home outside Peoria, Illinois. It was recorded in 2015. An elderly man beaten to the ground by a staff member.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This video is from a care facility in Creve Coeur. Watch the 84-year-old man. He comes into the room with his walker and tries to get something out of a drawer.
Police say the caregiver, Ernestine Cobbins struggles with him and then throws him to the floor. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.
Officers reviewed the tape, Cobbins was charged with third-degree elderly abuse.
Imagine doing that to a man with a walker. The woman who did it, who committed that crime is free today. In fact, she is still in the health care business. You can look up her LinkedIn page online. We did it about 10 minutes ago and she looks perfectly content in her picture.
And then there are these three nursing home employees in North Carolina. They’re accused of staging fistfights between dementia patients for their own amusement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: They uncovered two separate incidents. In one, 32-year-old Marilyn McKey is accused of physically assaulting a 73-year-old resident, pushing her into a room while 20-year-old Tonacia Tyson and 26-year-old Taneshia Jordan filmed the encounter and did not help.
In another incident, all three are accused of encouraging a fight between two residents ages 70 and 73. Not only did the workers not stop the fight, they filmed it.
The staff members reportedly captured on the video saying punch her in the face.
That happened just this fall. From what we can tell, none of these women is currently in jail tonight. Apparently the crime wasn’t serious enough. It’s not like they tried to open a gym in New Jersey or dared to walk on dry sand in Los Angeles.
And by the way, these are not isolated incidents, far from it. Consider the following headlines. They’re all from last year.
“Florida woman accused of raping man with dementia at nursing home.”
“Nursing assistant who raped patients sentenced to 12 years in prison.”
“Everett man has history of raping patients, prosecutors say.”
“Hillcrest nursing home faces $50 million lawsuit over rape of elderly woman.”
And then in Seattle, a nursing assistant was arrested after being caught on camera repeatedly sexually assaulting a patient.
Once again, the nursing home didn’t even know what happened. They didn’t detect the crime because no one was watching.
The victim’s family was suspicious so they put a camera in the room.
In Texas, a nurse called Billy Chemirmir was arrested for murdering patients. Police say he killed more than 20 elderly people before anyone noticed.
Again, all of that happened in a single year, last year, 2019.
So, what’s happening in nursing homes right now? Well, we don’t really know. And that’s the point. Family and loved ones aren’t allowed in to see. Chances are, they would be heartbroken if they knew.
How did this tragedy happen?
It wasn’t by accident. Our politicians did it. They did it to the most vulnerable people in our society, the ones who have earned the greatest respect. The Americans who actually did build this country.
Now, our helpless elderly are locked in stinking cells, cut off from the only ones who love them. Some of them as we said, are raped and beaten. Thousands and thousands have died alone.
They don’t deserve this and the rest of us don’t deserve the leaders whose neglect and bad judgment made it possible.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson’s monologue on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” on May 22, 2020.