New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide admitted the state’s top office purposefully hid the nursing home COVID-19 death toll out of fear of a federal investigation, The New York Post reported on Thursday evening.
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa confessed the coverup in a virtual meeting with state Democrat leaders, claiming Cuomo’s administration “froze” when they discovered the potential of a federal investigation and prosecution into their controversial and deadly COVID-19 policy. That policy sent more than 9,000 elderly patients recovering from the virus back to their care facilities from hospitals, many while still contagious.
The order, which extended for more than a month, led to the infection of thousands of vulnerable people in close quarters with contagious co-residents. These thousands of nursing home infections and deaths were concerning to the families of the patients such as Fox News’s Janice Dean, who repeatedly questioned and demanded answers about the state’s policy to count only COVID-19 deaths that occurred at the care facilities and ignore the deaths of residents who contracted the virus in their nursing home but later died in the hospital.
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) February 12, 2021
Grateful to be able to speak in Brooklyn with other grieving families that want an apology and answers from @NYGovCuomo about his tragic nursing home order. We also want and independent bipartisan investigation with subpoena power. We’re not going away. pic.twitter.com/rdBwnAxfdY
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) October 20, 2020
DeRosa further attempted to justify the state’s actions in denying the state legislature information about the nursing home policy in question in August by blaming former President Donald Trump, who she claims “turn[ed] this into a giant political football.”
“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
The secretary also reportedly attempted to apologize for the actions of Cuomo’s office, but the Democrat legislators overwhelmingly rejected her appeals, stating that the administration clearly sowed distrust in public health officials and the state’s own government
“I don’t have enough time today to explain all the reasons why I don’t give that any credit at all,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried.
“It’s not enough how contrite they are with us,” Assemblyman Ron Kim said. “They need to show that to the public and the families — and they haven’t done that.”
DeRosa’s confession comes mere weeks after a lengthy report from New York state Attorney General Letitia James finding that Cuomo, his administration, and the state’s Health Department severely undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said. “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents.”