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Politics Cuomo aides hid COVID-19 nursing home death toll for months: Report

02:15  29 april  2021
02:15  29 april  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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The number of nursing home residents who died in the pandemic has been a particularly sensitive question for the Cuomo administration. As the first wave hit New York in March 2020, the administration put in place a policy to prevent nursing homes from turning away patients discharged from hospitals after treatment for Covid - 19 . Some critics blamed the approach for the large number of resident deaths in the spring, a toll that the administration then put at around 6,000. But by the time the policy was rescinded less than two months later, it had become clear that not all the deaths were being included

Cuomo ’s aides rewrote the report , which was not yet public, to omit 9,250 deaths of nursing home residents recorded by the New York state health department (DoH). State officials insisted that the edits were made because of concerns about accuracy. “While early versions of the report included out-of-facility deaths , the Covid taskforce was not satisfied that the data had been verified against hospital data and so the final report used only data for in facility deaths , which was disclosed in the report ,” said Gary Holmes, the department of health spokesperson. The governor’s office didn’t respond to

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent months hiding his state's true COVID-19 nursing home death toll from the public, according to a new report.

Andrew Cuomo wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Washington Examiner

The New York Democrat's most senior aides spent five months overruling state officials, including Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who attempted to release death tallies to the public or state lawmakers, according to interviews and documents shared with the New York Times.

Among the documents that were not released were a scientific paper mentioning the data and two letters drafted by the state's Department of Health addressed to state legislators, according to the report.

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Andrew Cuomo ’s Aide Admits NY Hid COVID - 19 Nursing Home Deaths to Avoid Federal Investigation. The New York Post reported on Thursday that Melissa DeRosa, New York’s secretary to the governor, apologized to Democrat state legislators for “political” damage caused by the Cuomo government’s suppression of information related to nursing home COVID - 19 deaths . In a recorded call with state Democrat lawmakers, DeRosa said Cuomo ’s team feared a federal investigation in the context of former President Donald Trump’s highlighting of coronavirus-related deaths in New York’s

Cuomo aides 'OVERRULED his own health officials and blocked New York's nursing home COVID - 19 death toll from being released while he and top assistant worked on his book'. Cuomo aides were engaged in a lengthy effort to prevent the true Cuomo refused for months to release more complete data. The true death toll was only released this year after a report by the New York state attorney general found deaths had been undercounted by about half. The state now acknowledges that at least 15,000 long-term care residents died, compared to a figure of 8,700 it had publicized as of late January.

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Elkin Abramowitz, legal counsel for the governor’s office, dismissed the "brouhaha" of the report as "overblown."

"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," he said in an email to the Washington Examiner.

Abramowitz said the chamber responded to the Department of Justice request with "what they deemed to be totally accurate numbers," and Cuomo "was interested in putting out only accurate information to highlight the contrast between Albany and Washington."

“What’s going on in the press now is exactly what the chamber wanted to avoid while William Barr was [attorney general]," he added.

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The changes Mr. Cuomo ’s aides and health officials made to the nursing - home report , which haven’t been previously disclosed, reveal that the state possessed a fuller accounting of out-of-facility nursing - home deaths as early as the summer. The Health Department resisted calls by state and federal lawmakers State officials now say more than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities were confirmed or presumed to have died from Covid - 19 since March of last year—counting both those who died in long-term-care facilities and those who died later in hospitals.

The State had publicly reported nursing home deaths differently than other states, by excluding residents who had been transferred to hospitals and died there. Three of Cuomo ’s aides — all of whom had no public health expertise — fought with health officials to rewrite the report : DeRosa; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services; and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to the governor who was brought While New York’s governor comes under fire for sketchy data on nursing home deaths from COVID - 19 , New Jersey's governor wins praise for telling it straight.

The governor is under federal investigation for his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic after Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa acknowledged that Cuomo's office hid the state’s nursing home death toll out of concerns of political retribution from former President Donald Trump. Despite Beth Garvey, a special counsel and adviser to the governor, claiming in March of this year that nursing home death tolls couldn't be "verified," a document released weeks ago showed the Cuomo administration was tracking COVID-19 nursing home deaths since at least April 2020.

A report conducted by the Empire Center for Public Policy, a government watchdog group, found a March 25, 2020, executive order signed by Cuomo shielding nursing homes from liability when admitting COVID-19-positive patients was linked to over 1,000 additional resident deaths. Cuomo reversed the nursing home policy on May 10, 2020.

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A top aide of New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo , admitted the administration withheld data about Covid - 19 deaths among the nursing home patients, far higher than earlier thought, due to fear of federal prosecution. Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to Governor Cuomo , confessed to the cover-up during a video conference call with state Democrat leaders, reported the New York Post. The confession also comes ahead of a report by Associated Press, according to which more than 15,000 nursing home residents died of coronavirus, much higher than the previously disclosed figure of 8,500.

Andrew Cuomo pushed health officials to hide the true COVID - 19 death toll in state nursing homes , according to multiple reports published Thursday. The state's final report only included nursing - home residents who died inside those facilities, and didn't include infected residents who later died after being transferred to hospitals; reports say the actual nursing home death toll was roughly 50% higher than the administration said publicly. Last month , the governor accepted some blame for the lack of transparency about nursing home deaths , but also defended his administration's conduct.

In addition to questions surrounding his handling of nursing home data, the governor is facing several other scandals that threaten his governorship. He faces accusations of directing state health officials to give special COVID-19 testing access to members of his inner circle, which Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, rejected as an "insincere effort to rewrite the past" in an email to the Washington Examiner.

Cuomo has also been accused of sexual harassment by 10 women, claims that have led to separate investigations by Attorney General Letitia James, as well as an "impeachment investigation" in the New York state Assembly. The governor, who has repeatedly rejected charges of inappropriate touching, earlier this week denied accusations of inappropriate behavior toward women.

"I have never touched anyone inappropriately," he said during a press conference on Tuesday.

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Despite mounting pressure from within his party to step aside, Cuomo, who is eligible to seek a fourth term in office in 2022, has vowed not to resign, saying that the allegations of impropriety against him are false.

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Representatives for Zucker did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.

Tags: News, Andrew Cuomo, New York, Coronavirus, Public Health, Scandal, Scandals

Original Author: Carly Roman

Original Location: Cuomo aides hid COVID-19 nursing home death toll for months: Report

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