Friday, 16 April, 2021

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo faces backlash over nursing home deaths

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a news conference at a COVID-19 pop-up vaccination site in the William Reid Apartments in the Brooklyn borough of New York Cuomo's Top Aide Confesses State Covered Up Nursing Home Death Toll
Cecil Davis | 14 February, 2021, 09:41

Friday, called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the actual number of nursing home deaths and if there was a coverup by Melissa DeRosa, Governor Cuomo's top aide, into that number in the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo officials contend that information about deaths at nursing home and long-term care facilities during the height of the COVID crisis has been hard to compile and were already under pressure for only releasing data regarding deaths that occurred in residences.

There have been more than 13,000 confirmed and presumed-positive COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents since March 1 with about 4,091 of those deaths occurring after the resident was transported out of a nursing home, according to update posted Monday on the health department's website.

"He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes", DeRosa said.

That changed last month in the wake of a report from Attorney General James that accused the Cuomo administration of under-counting elder care facility deaths by as much as 50%.

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The AP filed a Freedom of Information request, and the state said there was an additional new count of 2,729 "readmissions" 0f patients sent back to the nursing home they lived in before being admitted to the hospital on top of the previously disclosed 6,327 patients. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. I expect the Department and administration to promptly fulfill all future information requests from the legislature. "[The Cuomo administration] intentionally withheld the data surrounding nursing homes from the Legislature because they were afraid it would be weaponized by the Trump administration". "But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic".

Cuomo's top aide Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers in a private virtual meeting that the state had been concerned about a US Justice Department preliminary inquiry into Covid-19 deaths in NY nursing homes, as well as attention from former President Donald Trump.

Details of the call were first reported in the New York Post. The update increased the nursing home death toll from just under 9,000 to almost 13,000.

Perhaps most alarming for the Cuomo administration, 14 New York Democrats (so far) signed on to a petition calling for Cuomo's emergency pandemic powers to be revoked. "They need to show that to the public and the families - and they haven't done that".

Cuomo's leadership during the early stages of the pandemic was originally a source of pride for national Democrats, who often favorably contrasted Cuomo's decisions and tactics with former President Donald Trump.