Report: Hiding scope of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by Cuomo administration went on for months
J. David Goodman, Jesse McKinley, and Danny Hakim report in The New York Times that aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly overruled state health officials over a span of at least five months about how to handle the COVID-19 crisis in New York's nursing homes. The reporters based their story on interviews and newly unearthed documents. "A scientific paper, which incorporated the data, was never published. An audit of the numbers by a top Cuomo aide was finished months before it became publicly known. Two letters, drafted by the Health Department and meant for state legislators, were never sent," the story says. Senior Cuomo aides worked to stop the state’s health officials, including the health commissioner, Howard Zucker, from reporting an accurate death toll in the nursing homes to the public or state lawmakers. Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer representing Cuomo’s office, said the administration doubted Zucker's numbers. “The whole brouhaha here is overblown to the point where there are cynical suggestions offered for the plain and simple truth that the chamber wanted only to release accurate information that they believed was totally unassailable,” Abramowitz said. “The chamber was never satisfied that the numbers that they were getting from D.O.H. were accurate." But Cuomo has not hinted at firing Zucker, and has taken no disciplinary action against his health commissioner and his faulty nursing home death data. There is currently a federal investigation into how the Cuomo administration handled the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes, and several other state investigations into other issues, such as sexual assault and harassment. Read more about this story in The New York Times.