Top Cuomo Advisers Helped Alter COVID Nursing Home Deaths
According to the Wall Street Journal, top advisers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo forced state health officials to alter a public report showing that more residents of nursing-homes died of the coronavirus than the administration told the public.
The July report only showed how many people died inside of long-term-care facilities and left out how many people died at hospitals after contracting COVID-19 at nursing homes. The report said that 6,432 residents of nursing homes passed away, which is a significant undercount of the 10,000 that passed away in the state by July, as stated in the initial report.
For another eight months, the Health Department declined calls by state and federal lawmakers, the media and others to release the data. State officials now say that more than 15,000 long-term-care facility residents were confirmed or presumed to have died from the coronavirus since March 2020. That figure is 50% higher than earlier reports.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had asked the administration last month for more information on the death toll and expressed interest in the July report. After the Wall Street Journal pressed the Cuomo administration for more details, administration officials said that Cuomo’s advisers did not want to include any out-of-facility deaths in the reports after they claimed it may have been inaccurate.
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker agreed that out-of-facility casualties should not have been included in the reporting.
A spokesperson for the Health Department said it “was comfortable with the final report and believes fully in its conclusion that the primary driver that introduced Covid into the nursing homes was brought in by staff.”
Members of both parties in the state’s legislature said that the administration’s delay contributes to a coverup of data the governor knew would be damning to his political prominence.
Top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, told state lawmakers during a February 10th meeting that she set aside a legislative request for the data due to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. According to a transcript of the meeting, DeRosa said the administration was concerned the data would be politicized by then-president Donald Trump.
Despite a report by the Cuomo administration saying the March 25th directive to move COVID-19 patients into nursing homes was “not a significant factor in nursing home fatalities,” a January report by the New York Attorney General said the state undercounted nursing-home deaths and the governor’s directive may have spread the coronavirus among the population’s most vulnerable.