In one of her first official actions as the new Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) has formally revised the state’s total number of COVID-related deaths by adding approximately 12,000 to the previous amount, according to CNN.
Hochul, who took office on Tuesday following the resignation of disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), made the announcement on Wednesday. The new total now stands at 55,395, after Cuomo had previously reported 43,404. Hochul’s administration confirmed that this was the result of a prior misrepresentation of the official number of deaths by her predecessor.
In one of the two scandals that ultimately brought him down, Cuomo and his office had actively sought to cover up the number of COVID deaths that came from nursing homes and other elderly care facilities. In March of 2020, Cuomo had controversially ordered that elderly patients who were confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus be moved into public nursing homes, even despite the clear health risk this presented to other, uninfected senior citizens. He rescinded the order in May, but the damage had already been done, with thousands of senior citizens dead as a direct result.
“As of yesterday, we’re using CDC numbers, which will be consistent,” Hochul said in a statement. “So there’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers. The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening.”
According to Hochul’s office, the new total was determined by drawing information from “provisional death certificate data reported by the New York State Department of Health and New York City to the Centers for Disease Control, and includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice, and other settings.”
In addition to the nursing home scandal, Cuomo faced widespread criticism for numerous accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women who worked for him. After Attorney General Letitia James (D-N.Y.) issued a report claiming that he had harassed at least 11 women, virtually every major elected official called on him to resign, including Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and both Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). After previously refusing to resign and insisting he did nothing wrong, Cuomo announced on August 10th that he would resign on August 24th. Hochul, his lieutenant governor, became the first female Governor of New York as a result.