Senior aides edited reports to hide the true numbers of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a new report, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and senior aides purposely withheld accurate numbers relating to coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
The New York Times reported Cuomo and his team rewrote a report and removed the fact more than 9,000 nursing home residents by that point in June had died of COVID-19.
After the New York state attorney general revealed that thousands of deaths had been undercounted, the governor finally released the full reports, claiming that he feared the administration of former President Donald Trump would order a politically motivated inquiry into his handling of nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.
The Times reviewed the New York State Health Department’s data and found the death toll was roughly 50% higher than the number then being reported publicly by the Cuomo administration. Working with McKinsey, a firm hired by Cuomo, the health department tracked New York’s total of 9,250 deaths, a much higher figure than that of the next-highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 deaths at the time.
According to the NYT, the aides responsible for editing the reports with Cuomo include Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services, and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to the governor.
“To us, it was clear: that you’ve got to report cases and deaths by all categories — case in nursing home, case in hospital,” said Stuart Almer, chief executive of Gurwin Health Care System, according to the news outlet. The system manages a 460-bed nursing facility on Long Island that has recorded 65 resident deaths from COVID-19. “We always had confidence, and still do, in our numbers.”
Gov. Cuomo denied there was a cover-up in the undercounting of deaths of nursing home patients due to coronavirus, according to theGrio. Death tolls in long-term care facilities have also been adjusted since the reports, with new totals counting COVID deaths of these residents as high as 15,000, increased from 8,500.
“We should have done a better job of providing as much information as we could as quickly as we could,” the Democratic governor said, according to the report. “No excuses. I accept responsibility for that.”
“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 according to theGrio.
Fox News reported Cuomo authored and sold a book detailing his leadership and procedures as New York became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” released in October, was critiqued as being premature as the country still battled the pandemic. The book became a New York Times bestseller and was listed under Amazon’s editor’s pick section.
Beyond the looming fallout from the COVID-19 numbers, Cuomo is also the target of sexual harassment allegations. As theGrio reported, multiple women have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior.
Despite calls to resign, Cuomo has issued a response, addressing the claims and vowing to remain in office. According to the report, he claimed to have “learned an important lesson” about his behavior around women in his first public appearance since the allegations were made public. He says he will fully cooperate in an investigation led by AG Letitia James.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said, according to theGrio. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”
He continued, “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.”
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