Justice Dept. & FBI Investigate Cuomo’s Handling Of Nursing Home Deaths
The FBI and Brooklyn federal prosecutor’s office have opened an investigation into how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been handling nursing homes and the deaths in these facilities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent weeks, a New York attorney general investigation found that Cuomo’s administration obscured key data and issued directives that may have led to increased nursing home deaths.
Multiple media investigations also concluded that New York state undercounted the number of coronavirus patients sent into nursing homes in New York.
Back in August, the Justice Department, then under former President Donald Trump, was seeking COVID-19 data “from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.” The focus was set on New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan, these states requiring “nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing.”
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division, Eric Dreiband. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not necessarily put at risk.”
In a press conference this week, Cuomo said that his administration fully “replied to” the Justice Department’s request in August and to its October request by “voluntarily producing information for that on a rolling basis” as recent as January 8.
Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi stated that Cuomo and his team have been cooperating with the DOJ during this investigation and will continue to do so. He did not say if any documents had been subpoenaed.
Melissa DeRosa, one of Cuomo’s aides, told New York state legislators during a Zoom call in February that Trump “turns this into a giant political football” and “starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes.”
DeRosa said the Cuomo administration “froze” when the DOJ and the New York lawmakers both pressed for info last year “because then 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.”
The controversy involving the nursing homes stems from a March order from the New York Health Department requiring nursing homes to accept patients infected with COIVD-19.
The order from March 25 stated the following:
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
It was rescinded on May 10.
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a report in January that concluded, “Nursing home implementation of some guidance may have led to an increased risk of fatalities in some facilities and may have obscured data reported by nursing homes.”
Four thousand nursing home deaths occurred after the March 25 order was put in place.