A bombshell report from the New York Times indicates top aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo overruled his own health experts, blocking the release of the pandemic’s true death toll numbers at nursing homes, and did so all while they were helping him write a book.
The crux of the Times column refers to the length of time aides spent in trying to cover up the number of deaths in nursing homes – five months – a particularly sore spot with the governor who had issued an executive order forcing care facilities to take in COVID-positive patients.
The order was not reversed for months.
Cuomo aides clearly sensed the fallout, doing their best to minimize the numbers by not counting seniors who were transported to hospitals and died there.
“By the time the policy was rescinded less than two months later, it had become clear that not all the deaths were being included in that tally: Those who died after being transferred to hospitals were not counted as nursing home deaths,” the Times writes.
When Cuomo’s own top health officials tried to get a more accurate count, his aides rebuffed them time and again. In fact, they fought release of the true numbers for five months, according to the report, a “far greater (effort) than previously known.”
While critics were noting the role of Governor Cuomo’s nursing home executive order in a large number of elderly deaths during the pandemic, the state Health Department was preparing a report on the matter in the spring of 2020.
Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, according to an email reviewed by the New York Times, told health officials: “We are getting anxious over here on this report.”
That report was eventually published in July but contained an explicit quantifier that the order forcing the care facilities to take on COVID-positive patients was “not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities.”
It also included a much lower number – not counting hospital deaths – in the report that the Times states was “rewritten several times by senior advisers to Mr. Cuomo.”
The department report listed just over 6,400 deaths. As of this month, more than 15,500 nursing home residents died from COVID-19.
In February, the New York Post revealed that DeRosa told leading Democrats that they tried to suppress the numbers because the administration feared the data could “be used against us” by the Justice Department saying, “basically, we froze.”
“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,” she said.
The New York Times reported in January that attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, accused Cuomo and his administration, particularly officials at the State Health Department, of undercounting COVID deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%.
A subsequent report by the Wall Street Journal in early March accused the aides of a very explicit cover-up by the Cuomo administration in the nursing home scandal.
“Cuomo’s top advisers successfully pushed state health officials to strip a public report of data showing that more nursing-home residents had died of Covid-19 than the administration had acknowledged,” they detailed.
Much of the pressure by the Health Department to suppress the numbers on the nursing home deaths was being applied by the administration itself.
“Aides overruled state health officials on releasing the figures over the span of at least five months, The Times reports,” according to The Hill.
“The effort included halting the publication of a scientific paper, which included the true tally, and the sending of two letters drafted by the Health Department and intended for state lawmakers.”
The New York Times report notes that much of the effort to halt the release of the true figures in the Cuomo nursing home scandal revolved around the Governor’s efforts to write a book celebrating his ‘leadership’ during the pandemic.
“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,” the report reads.
State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is currently conducting an investigation of allegations that the Governor used state resources and state employees to write his book on which he received a multimillion-dollar advance.
Fox News meteorologist and author Janice Dean, a leading voice on the nursing home scandal involving Governor Cuomo, expressed her optimism that justice may finally be served.
Dean’s in-laws were the unfortunate victims of COVID-19, where nursing homes in New York played a significant part.
“I feel like all of these months, close to a year now, it feels like it finally is happening, that all of the things we’ve been yelling about and trying to shine a light on, it’s finally happening,” Dean said.
Many of the things I’ve covered here at The Political Insider as well, things that should have been revealed much earlier if not for a complicit New York media that spent more time fawning over Cuomo than reporting on him.
On May 18th, nearly one full year ago, I labeled Cuomo’s executive order on nursing homes a “scandal” and noted at the time that the Governor seemed uninterested in accountability.
He even suggested it wasn’t his fault because “older people … are going to die.”
In an interview with Fox News, Dean didn’t hold back on what she felt should happen to the governor and those in his administration complicit in the nursing home cover-up.
“I really feel like he should go to jail,” she said. “And all these people surrounding him that covered this up for so many months, they should go to jail.”
The following is a list of scandals in which Cuomo is currently embroiled, most of which have resulted in investigations, calls for his resignation, and impeachment inquiries:
In an incredibly cold and callous comment last May, Cuomo snapped at a reporter for asking about grieving families of nursing home patients seeking justice.
“What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody. Nobody,” he rationalized. “Mother nature? God? Where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus.”
It’s time somebody from the administration is prosecuted, if not the governor himself. That would be justice.
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