State Watch

Cuomo aides obscured nursing home death total for months: report

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office was engaged in a months-long effort to conceal the true death toll in nursing homes from the coronavirus, far longer than had previously been known, according to a new report from The New York Times

Aides overruled state health officials on releasing the figures over the span of at least five months, The Times reports. The effort included halting the publication of a scientific paper, which included the true tally, and the sending of two letters drafted by the Health Department and intended for state lawmakers.

The concealment campaign came as Cuomo was writing a book on his handling of the pandemic, which hit New York particularly hard in early 2020.

Cuomo initially adopted a policy looking to prevent nursing homes from denying patients who had been discharged from hospitals because of the coronavirus, a rule critics have pointed to in explaining high death tolls at the sites.

While the policy was revoked two months after its implementation in March 2020, several nursing home deaths were not tallied as such. Many patients who contracted the virus in nursing homes but died at hospitals were not included in the count.

The controversy over the total number of nursing home deaths exploded in January after a report from the state attorney general revealed that the official count could be as little as half of the true death toll. 

The state government’s handling of the total number of nursing home deaths is now being investigated by federal officials. 

Cuomo’s office did not provide a comment to The Hill regarding the Times’s report but pointed to a statement Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer representing Cuomo’s office, gave to the paper explaining that the administration did not believe certain figures were reliable. 

“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,” he said, adding that the governor’s actions were not influenced by his book project.

The scandal over the death toll is compounding on pressure Cuomo is already feeling from sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by several women, including former and current aides. He has vowed that he will not resign even as Democrats in the state legislature conduct an impeachment investigation into the claims.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Cuomo nursing home scandal New York nursing home deaths Nursing home

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