Both Republicans and Democrats have called for investigations into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after The New York Department of Health was forced to adjust the number of elderly deaths in the state’s nursing homes because it had offered a figure far lower than the actual number.
New York State Representative Elise Marie Stefanik called the “nursing home scandal” a “display of corruption at the highest level” and said that both Democrats and Republicans in the state will launch an investigation into the case.
Stefanik further urged Attorney General Letitia James and the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
“The way to get answers is to issue subpoenas. Both Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of the state department are finally coming together to issue subpoenas. We also need to continue the independent investigation at the federal level (…) These families deserve accountability and we must make sure this never happens again,” he said.
She also accused Cuomo and the state health commissioner of not being transparent and covering up the numbers.
“Finally, today is the first step toward justice. We need to get answers and issue subpoenas immediately against the governor, the commissioner of health in New York state, Dr. Zucker and his senior staff, because corruption is the cover-up. They knew this issue and yet refused to be transparent with New Yorkers. But the most heartless thing is [not] being more transparent with those who have lost loved ones,” Stefanik told Fox News.
Following an attorney general’s report that showed Cuomo underestimated the pandemic’s deadly impact on nursing homes, the health commissioner had to reveal a new number that was 56% (4,200) higher than the initial figure.
The 76-page report, released by the attorney general, records a study of nursing homes that found consistent discrepancies between deaths reported to the attorney general’s investigators and those officially released by the state Department of Health (DOH).
Dr. Howard Zucker released figures that put the count of confirmed and presumed deaths in both nursing homes and hospitals at 12,743 as of January 19th, only slightly less than the 13,000 claimed in the prosecutor’s report.
Prior to Zucker’s reluctant announcement, the official count of nursing home deaths by COVID-19 included only residents who actually died there, not who died in a hospital.
Last Thursday, the Health Department’s website estimated that figure at 8,740 citing current data from the previous day. The authorities’ claim is that those missing deaths occurred when the evidence was supposedly thin and lacked evidence that they were caused by COVID-19.
Zucker also chose to disavow the prosecutor’s report by asserting that he found “no evidence” that Cuomo’s March 25th order for nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients had “led to additional nursing home deaths.”
However, more than 6,300 “COVID-positive residents” were admitted to nursing homes before Cuomo rescinded the policy in May. According to the prosecutor the move may have put residents at greater risk of harm.