Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves an allegation of NY governor covering up Covid-19 deaths that occured in Nursing Homes.
New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo and his administration faced heavy allegations on Friday that they had covered up the scope of the coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes. This is after a top aide to the governor admitted that the state had withheld data because it feared an investigation by the Trump Justice Department.
The remarks made by the top aide, Melissa DeRosa, in what was supposed to be a private conference call with Democratic lawmakers, came as a series of news reports and a court order have left Cuomo scrambling to contain the political fallout over his oversight of nursing homes, where more than 13,000 people have died due to the pandemic in the state.
DeRosa’s admission came when she was asked about ongoing delays in giving lawmakers nursing home death data. She said that after the Department of Justice requested information last summer, “basically, we froze.”At the same time, the governor’s office was also facing similar requests from the State Legislature.“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said during the call, according to a partial transcript later released by the governor’s office after the remarks appeared and published by the New York Post.
Two weeks ago, Letitia James who is the New York State Attorney General, in report accused the Cuomo administration of undercounting coronavirus related deaths connected to nursing homes by the thousands. Democrats in the State Senate and Assembly met privately on Friday to discuss whether the Legislature should curtail the emergency powers that have allowed the governor to set virus related restrictions and gave him full control over the vaccine rollout. At the moment no immediate action was expected.
Condemnation from Republicans was loud and vocal. They seized on the remarks as evidence of duplicity or even criminality.
Cuomo has also repeatedly tried to blame the nursing home issue on former President Donald Trump and political partisanship, and has pushed back hard on allegations of a cover up, saying that his administration was committed to facts and suggesting after some additional data was released that statistics were beside the point. “We’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes, but who cares?” Cuomo said in January, arguing that the percentages were unimportant. “Died in a hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”
DeRosa who is the top nonelected official in the state, sought to clarify the context for her remarks. She described the administration’s delays in getting information to state lawmakers as a kind of triage, because it had needed to prioritize a response to federal authorities.“I was explaining that when we received the D.O.J. inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first,” she said. “We informed the houses of this at the time,” referring to the upper and lower chambers of the Legislature.
DeRosa also claims that the administration was “comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the D.O.J., and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout.” “As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked,” she said.
Attorney General James’s report forced the state’s health department to make over 3,800 previously unreported deaths of residents who died outside a facilities and hospitals, and had not been included in the state’s official nursing home tally public.
The number of deaths connected to New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities has only ballooned, to about 15,000 confirmed and presumed deaths, from 12,743 as of late January. The administration released the latest figures in response to a court order after a six month battle between the Cuomo administration and the Empire Center, a conservative leaning think tank, which requested a full accounting of nursing home deaths under the state’s Freedom of Information Law. The virtual meeting this week between DeRosa and other senior administration officials, including Cuomo’s health commissioner and budget director, and top Democratic state lawmakers was intended to bridge a growing rift between the governor’s office and the Legislature.
Editors Note: I left the wording in Blue on the last Paragraph to show my source of information. This is an ongoing story and will be updating and reporting as more developments arise.