New York Governor Andrew Cuomo knowingly concealed for at least five months the real number of elderly nursing home deaths by censoring and pressuring health officials who were aware of the crisis, a New York Times report shows.
The New York Times revealed that Cuomo’s top aides tried at all costs to prevent state officials from releasing the actual number of elderly deaths, and also pressured state lawmakers to withhold the documents.
The newspaper revealed that the governor ensured that at least two letters drafted by the Department of Health for legislators were never read.
The lobbying actions by Cuomo’s top aides came at as he was editing the book in which he proudly expressed how he dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.
The actual number of elderly dead
When the first wave hit New York in March 2020, the administration put in place a policy directing nursing homes to take in coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals. Investigations reveal that this decision by the governor would have influenced the number of deaths of nursing home residents.
The figure released by the Cuomo administration was about 6,000 elderly deaths. However, investigations by state Attorney General Letitia James indicate that the number may have been 50% higher.
Emails from Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa show how the governor was already “nervous” about whether the reports from health officials would be released.
“We are getting anxious about this report,” Ms. DeRosa wrote in an email to health officials and top Cuomo aides on June 18.
In fact, Cuomo’s top aide went on far as to insist that the report’s numbers should be able to “stand up to scrutiny and definitively tell the story.”
The final version of the report, which according to the New York paper was rewritten several times by senior Cuomo aides and emphasized that nursing home admissions “were not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities,” was released in July 2020 and contained a lower number of deaths.
The documentary record put the number of residents with Covid-19 who died in the pandemic through the end of May 2020 at 9,739, a figure far higher than what the administration had made public at the time. But that version was never released.
According to the Times, health officials sent a letter in September to Cuomo with data containing the total number of deaths in order for it to be approved and then sent to lawmakers; however, that approval never came.
Cuomo faces four investigations in different entities, not only for concealing official figures but for alleged misconduct related to sexual harassment allegations.
The state Assembly has already initiated an investigation as part of the impeachment process, while prosecutor Letitia James has also added to her inquiries the possibility that the governor may have used public resources to benefit from the editing and publication of his book.