Cuomo admin deliberately blocked release of true New York nursing home death toll: report
Cuomo blocks release of COVID data given to DOJ
FOX News senior correspondent Laura Ingle has the latest developments on ‘FOX News Live’
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration reportedly engaged in a concerted monthslong effort to deliberately play down the number of COVID-19-related deaths among nursing home patients in the state.
Senior aides for the governor purposely sought to prevent New York state health officials, including Commissioner Howard Zucker, from releasing the true death toll, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing interviews and newly-unearthed documents.
As previously reported by Fox News, Cuomo’s administration was logging the location of nursing home residents’ COVID-19 deaths since at least April 2020, despite claims those numbers could not be verified for a report issued months later. According to a document obtained by Fox News, facilities were required to report the number of residents who died from COVID-19 daily.
Officials were aware of the true death toll since last spring, the New York Times said. An unpublished report said nursing home deaths accounted for 35% of all deaths at that time, though the version that was eventually released in July pared that figure down to 21%.
The Times reported that Cuomo’s top aides watched closely over the report, which began to be compiled in April 2020. An email obtained by the publication noted that Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s secretary, said they were getting “anxious” about the report and sought to downplay the idea that Cuomo’s nursing home directive was potentially a problem.
Not only was a scientific paper including the data was not published, the Times reported, but also two letters to state legislators from health officials were never sent.
Cuomo is said to have acknowledged in October that the data would eventually have to be released but reportedly called for additional analysis at that time. That data – including a higher death toll – were confirmed by the State Health Department in a letter that was never sent, the Times said.
A spokesperson for Cuomo directed Fox News to the governor’s legal counsel, Elkin Abramowitz, who characterized the situation as “overblown.”
“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,” Elkin said in a statement. “The chamber was never satisfied that the numbers that they were getting from D.O.H. were accurate. The chamber responded to the D.O.J. request with what they deemed to be totally accurate numbers. They didn’t want to have a public debate about other numbers at the same time.”
NY GOV. ANDREW CUOMO LEADS GOVERNORS’ COVID-19 CALLS DESPITE NURSING HOME SCANDAL: REPORT
On March 25, Cuomo issued the initial directive instructing nursing homes to accept patients who had or could have the virus.
The directive was reversed in May, when Cuomo said hospitals cannot send patients back to nursing homes unless they have tested negative.
The Cuomo administration initially put the nursing home death toll around 6,000, though they were only counting on-premise fatalities and not those who later died in a hospital.
New York Attorney General Letitia James in January released a report that revealed total nursing home deaths in the state were higher than previously expected – undercounted by as much as 55%.
The Department of Health revealed shortly after James’ report was released that an additional 3,829 residents died after being transferred to hospitals, which is about 40% more deaths than had previously been counted.
However, the state then revealed that at least 12,743 long-term care residents died of the virus as of Jan. 19, far more than the official tally of 8,505 on that day, cementing New York’s toll as one of the highest in the nation.
More than 15,000 nursing home deaths have been reported as of early March.
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The administration’s handling of the nursing home situation during the pandemic is now the subject on several ongoing investigations, including one being carried out by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
Fox News’ Remy Numa, Greg Norman and Aishah Hasni and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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