Andrew Cuomo doubled down as he continued to deflect blame and avoid providing pertinent information during a press conference on Monday. After reports that Cuomo ordered his staff to under-report COVID death numbers in nursing homes, the governor of New York decided to clarify allegations made against him. During his presentation, Cuomo used slides and charged language to blame just about everyone but himself.
According to Cuomo, the cause of allegations that he covered-up data is a “toxic political environment.” He explained that his administration “created a void” by not getting information out fast enough. He then mused that the void was filled by “skepticism, cynicism, and conspiracy theories.” Cuomo only took responsibility for creating the information void but explained that his team was busy dealing with the pandemic and could not answer all questions and inquiries.
Several NY legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, are demanding a full investigation into the allegations that Cuomo’s administration under-reported nursing home deaths by as much as 50%, according to NY Attorney General Letitia James. As RF Angle previously reported, during a virtual meeting, Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, admitted that the administration had withheld COVID nursing home numbers because of pressure from the Trump Administration and state lawmakers calling for transparency. According to CNN, she “apologized to Democratic lawmakers, saying the administration ‘froze’ when initially asked by state legislators back in August about the issue.”
DeRosa admitted Cuomo undercounted the deaths over the fear of a possible federal investigation. In a video call transcript, she accused former President Donald Trump of using the situation as a “giant political football.” DeRosa then apologized for any political harm the recent revelations could do to Democrats: “So, we do apologize. I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intent to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”
During the press conference, Cuomo asserted that the state legislature was aware that there was a delay in fulfilling their request for information because the administration had prioritized a DOJ request for information on nursing home deaths. NY legislators, on both sides of the aisle, deny being given that information. Cuomo argued that since the DOJ request was in the New York Post, lawmakers should have known, stating, “It was in the paper.” He additionally claimed that his staff told the legislative staff about the DOJ request, which NY lawmakers, including several Democrats, also deny.
Cuomo attempted to lay blame on others by saying he followed CDC guidelines when he made the deadly decision to return COVID positive residents to their nursing home facilities after leaving the hospital. He argued that governors were mandated to send residents back and that it was not a decision his administration made.
Cuomo added that nursing home residents were “probably no longer contagious” when they returned to their long-term care facilities, adding that residents were probably infected by staff or visitors. It is unclear what science or data the governor has used to make these determinations, but his own lawmakers believe he is lying.
In an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum, Assemblyman Ron Kim of New York called Cuomo on his lack of accountability and false information. Kim, a Democrat and Chair of the Aging Committee, said Cuomo directed his administration to cover up COVID nursing home numbers to avoid a DOJ investigation. Kim accused the governor of using “talking points” and lying about the contents of the video call, where his top aide admitted to a cover-up after prefacing her statements with, “I am going to tell you the truth.” Kim compared the moment to the “You can’t handle the truth” scene from the movie, A Few Good Men.
Kim continued: “We have a responsibility to protect our democratic institutions and hold the executive accountable.” Kim then disproved one of Gov. Cuomo’s most significant assertions by stating that “all data points show New York hospitals weren’t at full capacity,” when the decision was made to return elderly patients to their nursing homes. Kim pointed out that they “even gave ventilators to other states,” after the host asked him why Cuomo had not used the Javits Center or the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship provided by the Trump Administration, to house and care for nursing home residents. Why Cuomo chose not to use these two venues has not been addressed by the Governor.
In what is obviously a deadly decision, the Cuomo Administration took over 2 months to reverse course on the policy of reintroducing COVID positive residents into their nursing homes, potentially causing thousands of unavoidable deaths. Assemblyman Kim, along with a growing number of New York lawmakers, believes Cuomo did not use his emergency powers properly and should be stripped of these powers immediately.