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Cuomo aide admits administration held back nursing home death data deliberately

Feb 12, 2021 2:45 pm

The Times Union is reporting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's secretary Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers in a conference call on February 10, that the administration's protracted refusal to release full data on COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents was due to the belief that they were facing a politically motivated probe by former President Donald J. Trump's Justice Department. The disclosure prompted fresh demands from lawmakers in both parties for a full investigation of Cuomo's stonewalling and possible obstruction of a federal request, as well as calls from Republicans for the governor's resignation or impeachment. In the meeting, DeRosa explained why Cuomo's team rejected the Legislature's request for the complete data a month after the state health department released a self-exonerating report, concluding that Cuomo's March order that care facilities could not turn away COVID-positive residents did not play a significant role in the virus' devastating spread through many of those facilities. That report, however, only counted deaths of residents at the facilities, and not the deaths of those who were shifted to hospitals and then died. In a statement February 12, DeRosa said her comments were taken out of context. She said, "We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic.” But in the meeting, DeRosa made it clear that the administration viewed the federal inquiry as a political attack. DeRosa apologized to the lawmakers for the political pressure placed on them by the administration's refusal to provide the data. Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco said in a statement DeRosa's admission was shocking. "Rather than apologize for the cover-up and any role the Cuomo Administration may have played in the deaths of 15,000 New Yorkers from the coronavirus in nursing homes, Ms. DeRosa instead gave a mea culpa for putting the Democratic legislators in an inconvenient ‘political position.'” Other critical comments were posted on social media from Democrats including Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and state Sen. Julia Salazar. Assemblymember John McDonald issued a more conciliatory statement. He said, "I am committed to getting answers to the many outstanding questions and discerning the facts we need to make informed decisions on next steps. Anyone who lost a loved one in a nursing home deserves these answers and my colleagues and are I committed to ensuring full transparency on this issue." Read the full story in the Times Union.

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