Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration drastically undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths, a damning report from New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges.
According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the N.Y. State Department of Health’s published nursing home data “may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent.”
The Associated Press reported last May that the Cuomo administration mandated that more than 4,300 recovering COVID patients be sent back into nursing homes, despite the likelihood that some of those patients were still contagious and could spread the virus throughout the facilities.
With over 43,000 fatalities, New York leads all of the other states in the number of deaths by the coronavirus, while it is number four on the list of total COVID-19 cases in the United States.
The N.Y. Attorney General’s Office has been investigating nursing homes throughout the state since last March, in response to “allegations of patient neglect and other concerning conduct.” There are more than 1,000 private nursing homes in the state.
The investigations also revealed that nursing homes’ lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staffing ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates. Based on these findings and subsequent investigation, Attorney General James is conducting ongoing investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern.
The Cuomo administration issued a report in July refuting claims that the governor’s nursing home mandate contributed to nursing home deaths, arguing that they “were no longer contagious when admitted and therefore were not a source of infection.”
The N.Y. Attorney General’s report however found that nursing home residents in the state suffered at “an alarming rate.”
“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,” said Attorney General James. “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. Nursing homes residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments, and I will continue to work hard to safeguard this basic right during this precarious time.”
The U.S. Dept. of Justice under President Trump also investigated whether Cuomo’s administration significantly undercounted the number of COVID-19 nursing home fatalities in New York, last year, although it’s not clear whether that investigation is still going.
Cuomo’s office called the the Justice Department’s initial August request for data “nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice.”
The N.Y. AG’s bombshell report comes two months after The International Emmy Awards presented Cuomo with the International Emmy® Founders Award, “in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.”
It also comes in the wake of Cuomo’s galling, self-congratulatory book tour last fall to promote his book American Crisis, which detailed his “successful” response to the pandemic. New York residents who had lost loved ones as a result of the state’s disastrous nursing home policy fumed at Cuomo’s victory lap.
Fox News weather anchor Janice Dean, who lost both of her husband’s parents in a nursing home last year, was especially vocal about Cuomo’s chutzpa at the time.
She took to Twitter to torch the governor and the sycophantic hosts of the View following the governors appearance on the daytime liberal talk show.
“Omg @TheView you are such a disappointment,” Dean tweeted out as she watched the show. “Also @sunny with the “such a great book governor!” Beginning to the question made me throw up in my mouth,” she added.
“Won’t answer the question. Blaming older people. Blaming the staff. Conspiracy theories. Using bad statistics. Brutal rambling on. No follow up,” Dean railed in a subsequent tweet.
“It would’ve been great television and a good switch to see @TheView actually ask hardball questions of @NYGovCuomo. He had the highest deaths of any state and literally infected nursing homes with Covid. Instead he rambled on, blamed others for his mistakes and lied. Huge fail,” she tweeted.
“There’s a whole bunch of evidence this tough guy hasn’t told the truth, wrongly infected nursing homes with COVID patients by listening to hospital lobbyists’ advice (instead of science) and is actively hiding the real death toll. I’m behind the @TheJusticeDept on this one,” she said in another tweet.
Dean fought back tears when asked for her reaction to the new report on Fox News, Thursday.
“Maybe the angels won … and maybe this governor will be held accountable,” she said.
Dean blasted Cuomo for continuing to “pass the blame on everyone else and everything else,” and pointed out that “to this day will not accept any responsibility.”
“Finally today, there is a ray of light,” she said through tears.
.@JaniceDean lost two family members in a New York nursing home early in the pandemic—and she's been fighting to expose Cuomo's role in the thousands of tragic and avoidable nursing home deaths ever since.
Today families are closer than ever to answers and justice thanks to her. pic.twitter.com/9fpRSIX2UW
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 28, 2021