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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Mike Segar/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senior aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) engaged in a sustained campaign over several months to keep state health officials from releasing the full nursing home death toll caused by the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The FBI is investigating Cuomo's office following a probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, that found his administration undercounted deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.

Details: Cuomo's senior aides reportedly worked to prevent New York's health commissioner Howard Zucker and other officials from releasing data: a scientific paper that was never published, an audit completed months before being made public, and two letters written by the New York Health Department for state lawmakers that were never sent.

  • "The actions coincided with the period in which Mr. Cuomo was pitching and then writing a book on the pandemic, with the assistance of his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and others," per the Times. Crown Publishing Group halted promotion of the book in March.
  • Flashback: Zucker said in late January there was nothing wrong with the accuracy of the health department's numbers, following James' initial investigation.

What they're saying: “The whole brouhaha here is overblown to the point where there are cynical suggestions offered for the plain and simple truth that the chamber wanted only to release accurate information that they believed was totally unassailable,” Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer representing Cuomo’s office, told the Times.

  • “The chamber was never satisfied that the numbers that they were getting from D.O.H. were accurate,” Abramowitz said, adding that actions by Cuomo’s aides were unrelated to his book on leadership lessons from the pandemic.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 6, 2021 - Technology

CNN fires 3 staffers for coming into office unvaccinated

CNN president Jeff Zucker. Photo: J. Countess/Getty Images

CNN president Jeff Zucker told staff Thursday that the network fired three staff members who came to work without getting vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a memo first obtained by the New York Times.

Driving the news: Zucker said in the memo also shared with Axios that CNN had a "zero-tolerance policy" on coronavirus vaccinations and noted that employees showing proof of having had the vaccine may soon become part of the process of entering network buildings.

Scoop: Dem fundraising platform ActBlue boots Cuomo

Protesters in New York City against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and for a moratorium on evictions, Aug. 4. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue has removed a donation page that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign committee used to solicit contributions, the company confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: ActBlue is the lifeblood of grassroots Democratic fundraising. Its decision to cut off Cuomo following damning allegations of sexual harassment and assault deals a body blow to what's left of his political future.

Aug 6, 2021 - Health

The CDC's booster messaging mess

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration — already under fire for its handling of masking guidance — is losing control of the narrative surrounding coronavirus vaccine booster shots.

Why it matters: The vast majority of vaccinated Americans don’t need to worry about their level of protection against the virus, at least not yet. But the void of information from the federal government about what should be expected going forward is being filled by drug companies, other countries and nervous Americans themselves.