AN aide of Andrew Cuomo has admitted withholding nursing home Covid deaths over fears the grim figures would “be used against us”, a report says.
The shocking revelation had led to calls for New York Governor Cuomo to be prosecuted over allegations of a cover-up.
Governor Cuomo’s administration hid the true extent of the New York’s nursing home Covid deaths, a report saysCredit: Reuters
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa made the admission to state Democratic leaders during a video conference call.
She said the administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the statistics in August because “right around the same time (Donald Trump) turns this into a giant political football.”
According to the New York Post, who listened to the two hour recording of the call, DeRosa continued: “He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes.
“He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
She told lawmakers that “basically, we froze” when Trump directed the Department of Justice to investigate the administration.
DeRosa added: “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 start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.
Top aide Melissa DeRosa said the administration was worried the figures would be ‘used against us’Credit: © 2020 Pacific Press
More than 13,000 care home residents in the state have died from CovidCredit: AFP or licensors
“That played a very large role into this.”
Republican Elsie Stefanik demanded that Cuomo be “prosecuted immediately” following the sensational revelation.
She said: “This bombshell admission of a coverup and the remarks by the Secretary to the Governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power.”
Another Republican Rob Ortt, New York’s Senate Minority Leader, tweeted: “Governor Cuomo and his administration must be investigated from top to bottom and he must be stripped of his emergency powers.”
Democrats also blasted Cuomo and his administration.
‘CRIMINAL ABUSE OF POWER’
State senator Alessandra Biaggi, tweeted: “You’re only sorry that you all got caught.
“Because of your decisions, thousands of people died who did not have to die. We’re not ‘offended’, Melissa, we’re furious – with extremely good reason.”
More than 13,000 care home residents in New York State have died since the start of the pandemic.
According to the Post, Cuomo’s administration refused media requests about the total nursing home death toll and battled a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Empire Center on Public Policy.
Republicans are calling for Cuomo and his team to be investigated following the revelationCredit: Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Instead, officials only gave the numbers of elderly people who died in care homes – missing out residents who were transferred to hospital.
Yet, amid mounting pressure, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released the data showing the combined total was 12,743 as of January 19.
A day earlier, health officials only publicly acknowledged 8,711 deaths in care homes, the Post reports.
On Wednesday, Zucker said the total number of nursing home residents who died from the virus had increased to 13,297.
And according to reports, that number jumps to 15,049 when fatalities of those living in assisted living or adult care facilities are factored in.
Following a damning report last month by Attorney General Letitia James, Cuomo appeared to say it didn’t matter where the deaths took place.
He said: “Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”