New York Nursing Home COVID-19 Death Toll Covered Up By Cuomo Administration
New allegations surfaced on Friday against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), claiming that his administration covered up the COVID-19 nursing home death toll. Over 13,000 people have died from COVID-19 in New York state nursing homes during the pandemic, but the state reported a much lower number to the public.
One of the governor’s top aides, Melissa DeRosa, admitted that the administration withheld death toll data in order to avoid an investigation by the Trump Justice Department. In DeRosa’s words, when the data was requested by the Justice Department, “basically, we froze.”
“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.
Democrats and Republicans alike are calling for action to be taken against Cuomo – some are asking for him to be stripped of emergency powers, while others are demanding his resignation.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins demanded an investigation into the matter. “Crucial information should never be withheld from entities that are empowered to pursue oversight,” she said. Echoing that sentiment, State Rep. Tom Reed (D) said, “It is time to move past the lies and finally uncover the full truth.”
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D) called the death toll cover-up “a betrayal of the public trust.” He added, “There needs to be full accountability for what happened, and the legislature needs to reconsider its broad grant of emergency powers to the governor.”
Even before news of the coverup became public information, New York State Attorney General Letitia James accused Cuomo’s administration of drastically undercounting virus deaths in nursing homes.
In January, Cuomo put out a statement on nursing home deaths, which appears to have aged poorly. “We’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes, but who cares? Died in a hospital, died in a nursing home? They died,” Cuomo said.