New Allegations of Cover-Up by Cuomo Over Nursing Home Virus Toll

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New Allegations of Cover-Up by Cuomo Over Nursing Home Virus Toll

In a leaked conversation, the governors top aide admitted that data was withheld on nursing homes, where more than 10000 New Yorkers have died during the …

New Allegations of Cover-Up by Cuomo Over Nursing Home Virus Toll – The New York Times

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New Allegations of Cover-Up by Cuomo Over Nursing Home Virus Toll

In a leaked conversation, the governor’s top aide admitted that data was withheld on nursing homes, where more than 10,000 New Yorkers have died during the pandemic.

The governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, is at the center of the latest controversy over the state’s handling of coronavirus related nursing home deaths.Credit…Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

By and

Feb. 12, 2021Updated 11:47 a.m. ET

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his top aides were facing new allegations on Friday that they covered up the scope of the death toll in the state’s nursing homes from the coronavirus, after admissions that they withheld data in an effort to forestall potential investigations into state misconduct.

The latest revelations came in the wake of private remarks by the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and a cascading series of reports and court orders that have nearly doubled the state’s official toll of nursing home deaths in the last two weeks.

The disclosures have left Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, scrambling to contain the political fallout, as lawmakers of both parties call for censure, including stripping the governor of his emergency powers during the pandemic, federal and state investigations and resignations of Ms. DeRosa and other top officials.

In a conversation first , Ms. DeRosa told a group of top lawmakers on Wednesday during a call to address the nursing home situation that “basically, we froze,” after being asked last summer for information by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.

. “There needs to be full accountability for what happened.”

Condemnation was even louder from Republicans, who have seized on Mr. Cuomo’s performance on nursing homes — where more than 10,000 New Yorkers have died during the pandemic, but the state long stalled on releasing full data — as evidence of duplicity or even criminality.

Updated Feb. 12, 2021, 1:13 p.m. ET

Early on Friday, Ms. DeRosa, the top nonelected official in the state, sought to clarify the context for her remarks, saying she was trying to explain that “we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first.”

“We informed the houses of this at the time,” she said, referring to the upper and lower chambers of the Legislature.

She added that the administration was “comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the D.O.J., and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout.”

Let Us Help You Better Understand the CoronavirusAre coronavirus case counts rising in your region?  will help you determine how your ,  or  is faring.Vaccines are rolling out and will reach many of us by spring.  about the vaccines.Now that we are all getting used to living in a pandemic, you may have  about how to go about your routine safely, how your children will be impacted, how to travel and more. So far, the coronavirus outbreak has sickened more than 106 million people globally. More than two million people have died.  that led to these numbers may help you understand how we got here.

“As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked,” she said.

The revelation of Ms. DeRosa’s remarks comes after from Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, who accused the Cuomo administration of undercounting coronavirus related deaths connected to nursing homes by the thousands.

The report forced the state’s health department to make public more than 3,800 previously unreported deaths of residents who died outside a facility, like in a hospital, and had not been included in the state’s official nursing home tally.

, from 12,743 in late January, as of this week.

The administration released the latest figures following a six-month battle between the Cuomo administration and the Empire Center, a conservative-leaning think tank, which requested a full accounting of nursing home deaths under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

The virtual meeting this week between Ms. DeRosa and , including Mr. Cuomo’s health commissioner and budget director, and top Democratic state lawmakers was intended to bridge a growing rift between the governor’s office and the Legislature.

The Legislature held hearings in early August on the administration’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes in which legislators repeatedly questioned the state health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, on the full extent of deaths linked to nursing homes. Lawmakers, however, were unsatisfied with Mr. Zucker’s failure to disclose the number of resident deaths outside nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

A few weeks later, the State Senate and Assembly formally wrote the health department requesting those figures, as well as additional information.

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