ALBANY, N.Y. — Under fire over his management of the coronavirus’ lethal path through New York’s nursing homes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is insisting the state didn’t cover up deaths. But he acknowledged Monday that officials should have moved faster to release some information sought by lawmakers, the public and the press.
The Democrat said at a virtual news conference that deaths in nursing homes and hospitals were always "fully, publicly and accurately reported.”
2 On Your Side's Steve Brown was on that call with the governor and tried to get a question answered, but was not called on by the governor's staff.
Cuomo has seen his image as a pandemic-taming leader damaged by a series of disclosures involving nursing homes in recent weeks. He said he would propose reforms involving nursing homes and hospitals in the upcoming state budget.
On Friday, the Secretary to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, released a statement regarding her comments made during a Zoom conference call with state legislators about nursing home deaths. The statement read:
"I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first. We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic."
Her statement comes following an article by the New York Post where DeRosa explained they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out.
The article says DeRosa apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing home COVID death toll, saying “we froze” out of fear that the true numbers would “be used against us.”
Also on Friday, 14 Democratic state senators joined a Republican-led effort for the legislature to rescind the substantial emergency powers lawmakers handed to the governor last spring at the onset of the pandemic, calling "for a repeal of the governor's authority to issue unilateral directives."
New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a report last month about the state's nursing home response to COVID-19. Among the findings during their investigation was that the New York State Department of Health's publicly reported data may have undercounted COVID-19 related deaths.