Cuomo aide admits state withheld nursing home data fearing DOJ investigation

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

Thursday evening the New York Post reported Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for the way the state handled nursing home death data and allegedly said the state thought the numbers would be used against them by federal prosecutors.

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.

Many are blaming the high death toll on the state's decision early in the pandemic to send COVID-19-positive patients into nursing homes. "That said, we were working simultaneously to complete the audit of information they were asking for".

In recent weeks, a court order and state attorney general report has forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is almost 15,000, when it was previously reported as 8,500 - a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals.

"I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first", DeRosa said in a statement published by Spectrum News. We informed the houses of this at the time.

Orrt is calling for a full investigation into the Cuomo administration's handling on COVID-19 nursing home policies and data. I expect the Department and administration to promptly fulfill all future information requests from the legislature.

The governor and state officials are facing mounting pressure Friday amid accusations that the administration obfuscated the true toll of the deadly virus in New York's elder care facilities. "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", DeRosa said.

On Saturday, the most conservative-leaning aggregation website shared links to coverage from The Daily Mail and The Associated Press on the nursing home data controversy.

DeRosa, Friday, released a partial transcript of her telephone call with state lawmakers where she told Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall), who raised the questions, that "basically, we froze 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, what we starting saying was going to be used against us while we weren't sure if there was going to be an investigation".

Cuomo has pointed to a small but growing body of research suggesting unchecked community spread is the biggest factor in nursing home outbreaks, and he has said inadequate federal government help with travel restrictions, testing and protective gear left New York City and its suburbs particularly vulnerable. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens). "We need to utilize our leverage to hold (Cuomo) accountable and fight for justice for these families". She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.



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