News & Politics

Cuomo Aide Admits Governor Covered up COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Data

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

A top aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “privately apologized to state Democratic leaders for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19,” reports the New York Post. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, told them “‘we froze’ out of fear the true numbers would ‘be used against us’ by federal prosecutors.”

Last month the New York attorney general’s office released a report saying that New York’s nursing home death count from COVID-19 was undercounted by as much as 50 percent. The Cuomo administration responded by blaming the Trump administration, even though the policy—and the cover-up—was entirely the Cuomo administration’s doing.

PJ Media has been calling out Cuomo’s deadly nursing home policy and his cover-up of the policy’s impact since the spring—as have other conservative media outlets. In July, I explained in detail how the cover-up was executed.

DeRosa admitted to the cover-up during a two-hour-plus video conference call, during which she also said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a request from the state senate in August for a full accounting of the death toll because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football.”

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

DeRosa “basically, we froze” after Trump directed the Department of Justice to investigate the nursing home deaths in New York.

“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa explained. “That played a very large role into this.”

DeRosa apologized—a new thing for the Cuomo administration—but the apology was not for the policy that resulted in many thousands of elderly New York nursing home residents dying because of Cuomo’s nursing home policy, but for the political fallout from the cover-up.

“So we do apologize,” DeRosa said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

But the Democrats on the call weren’t exactly moved by the apology.

“…the issue for me, the biggest issue of all is feeling like I needed to defend — or at least not attack — an administration that was appearing to be covering something up,” said State Senate Aging Committee Chairwoman Rachel May (D-Syracuse). “And in a, in a pandemic, when you want the public to trust the public-health officials, and there is this clear feeling that they’re not coming, being forthcoming with you, that is really hard and it remains difficult.”

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), who was on the call, told The Post that DeRosa’s remarks sounded “like they admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice.”

“That’s how I understand their reasoning of why they were unable to share, in real time, the data,” Kim said. “They had to first make sure that the state was protected against federal investigation.”

It’s great, after ten months of calling out Cuomo for his deadly policy and the cover-up, that Democrats are finally starting to call him out on it. But that doesn’t excuse the media for ignoring the scandal all this time, propping up Cuomo as an example of effective leadership during the pandemic. Heck, he won an Emmy for it, for crying out loud, and don’t get me started on his book.

Still, I’m glad Cuomo is finally getting the coverage he deserves. Now, maybe the media will start covering the sexual harassment allegations made against him.

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