Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo faces new allegations of covering up nursing home deaths

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Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Democratic lawmakers that the administration rebuffed their request for data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes because they feared it would "be used against us" by federal investigators egged on by then-President Trump, according to a leaked tape obtained by the New York Post.

Why it matters: Cuomo has been under fire for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes early in the pandemic. He's now facing new allegations of his administration actively withholding data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in order to delay potential investigations.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a report two weeks ago accusing the Cuomo administration of undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
  • Cuomo dismissed the report, arguing it doesn't matter where the patients died: “Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”

Driving the news: “[Trump] starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa reportedly told lawmakers on the call, noting that the president directed the Justice Department to investigate. “And 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 start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
  • DeRosa later attempted to clarify her remarks by arguing that the Cuomo administration wasn't hiding information altogether, but rather had multiple requests for the same data and was attempting to send them in proper order, the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: Cuomo is facing calls for accountability from both Republicans and Democrats in New York.

  • New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R) tweeted: "Governor Cuomo and his administration must be investigated from top to bottom and he must be stripped of his emergency powers."
  • New York State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D) tweeted: "This is a betrayal of the public trust. There needs to be full accountability for what happened, and the legislature needs to reconsider its broad grant of emergency powers to the governor."
  • New York State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D) 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."
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