A new bombshell report reveals that top advisers to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo influenced state health officials to remove data from a public report that showed coronavirus-related nursing-home deaths in the state had exceeded numbers previously acknowledged by the administration.
The report was released in July, but the Wall Street Journal broke the story detailing the troubling cover-up on Thursday.
The final report focused only on nursing-home residents who died inside those facilities and did not include nursing-home residents who were transferred to hospitals after becoming sick, the Journal reported.
That means the state’s reported tally of 6,432 nursing-home resident deaths was significantly lower than the actual nursing-home death toll, sources with knowledge of the state report’s preparation told the newspaper.
According to state officials, the actual death toll related to nursing homes and long term care facilities in New York is actually upwards of 15,000 residents.
The number represents deaths since March 2020 of residents confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus or presumed to have contracted it, the report said.
Cuomo has defended his administration’s actions regarding the nursing-home deaths, saying state officials had followed federal guidance and worked to manage hospital capacity as the virus spread, the Journal reported.
The July report was produced after state lawmakers and families of people who died raised questions about a March 25, 2020, directive given by Cuomo which forced COVID-19 positive patients into these facilities.
Then on Feb. 10 of this year, Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers that state officials delayed releasing nursing-home data last year, fearing at the time it might spark a federal investigation from the Trump administration. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division had begun seeking data from New York and other states last August, the Journal reported.
The Journal’s report drew a reaction from Democratic New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, who previously alleged that Cuomo had threatened him for speaking out against the governor’s handling of the state’s nursing homes.
“This is criminal,” Kim wrote on Twitter. “The Gov’s top advisors pushed state health officials to strip a public report of the data showing more nursing home deaths. The changes Cuomo’s aides made to the report reveal that they had the fuller accounting of NH deaths as early as the summer of 2020.”
Reports of discrepancies in the tally of coronavirus-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes have sparked severe criticism against Cuomo, who initially drew national praise from the leftist media and popular Democrats for his handling of the coronavirus – despite New York state being a U.S. epicenter for its deadly spread.
Now the nursing-home reports are being coupled with allegations of sexual harassment against the 63-year-old third-term Democrat, who is facing increasingly bipartisan calls for his resignation – as well as a planned investigation by New York’s attorney general.
The Journal’s story about the nursing-home data was published on the same evening that the “CBS Evening News” aired an interview with Charlotte Bennett, one of at least three women who have made sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo.
During that interview, Bennett – a 25-year-old former aide to Cuomo – suggested that positive media coverage of Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus may have boosted his ego.
“I think he felt like he was untouchable in a lot of ways,” Bennett told Nora O’Donnell of CBS.
Bennett accused Cuomo of “trying to sleep with me,” while two other women – Lindsey Boylan and Anna Ruch – have also accused him of inappropriate comments and behavior.
Cuomo, at a Wednesday news conference, denied intentionally mistreating the women. He apologized, saying he now realized his comments had an unintended effect, and claimed he “learned an important lesson” but had no plans to leave office.