A report by state health officials was so damning that top aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rewrote the report in order to conceal the true number of nursing home patients who died during the pandemic, the New York Times reveals.
In January, the New York attorney general’s office released a report saying that New York’s nursing home death count from COVID-19 had been 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.
According to the NYT, “Mr. Cuomo and his aides actually began concealing the numbers months earlier, as his aides were battling their own top health officials, and well before requests for data arrived from federal authorities, according to documents and interviews with six people with direct knowledge of the discussions, who requested anonymity to describe the closed-door debates.”
The aides told the NYT that the cover-up occurred while Cuomo was starting to write his book on his stellar leadership during the pandemic, and is “the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a monthslong effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths,” according to the NYT.
The central role played by the governor’s top aides reflected the lengths to which Mr. Cuomo has gone in the middle of a deadly pandemic to control data, brush aside public health expertise and bolster his position as a national leader in the fight against the coronavirus.
As the nursing home report was being written, the New York State Health Department’s data — contained in a chart reviewed by The Times that was included in a draft — put the death toll roughly 50 percent higher than the figure then being cited publicly by the Cuomo administration.
The Health Department worked on the report with McKinsey, a consulting firm hired by Mr. Cuomo to help with the pandemic response. The chart they created compared nursing home deaths in New York with other states. New York’s total of 9,250 deaths far exceeded that of the next-highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 at the time.
Of course, this is hardly new information to those who read and watch conservative media. 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 outlets. In July, I explained in detail how the cover-up was executed.
The January report from the New York attorney general’s office came six months after the Cuomo administration “investigated” his nursing home policy and its impact, and predictably concluded that the decision to send patients who tested positive for the coronavirus into nursing homes was not a “significant factor” in the thousands of deaths that occurred in nursing home facilities statewide. Instead, the 33-page Cuomo administration report blamed nursing home staff and visitors for unknowingly infecting nursing home patients. The report, which Cuomo praised, was issued by Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, a Cuomo appointee. Cuomo then claimed criticism of the nursing home policy was based on “pure politics.”
“You had this political conspiracy that the deaths in nursing homes were preventable,” Cuomo said at the time. “And now the report has the facts and the facts tell the exact opposite story.”
But many were not fooled by the bogus investigation’s conclusions.
The day after the report was published, legislators began calling for hearings and requesting complete data. Public health officials criticized its approach. A think tank began seeking the data the next month, as did the Justice Department.
Health officials, nursing home operators and even some of Mr. Cuomo’s aides expressed bafflement at the governor’s apparent insistence on delaying the release of the data for so long, as none of the information released so far has changed the overall number of Covid-19 deaths in New York — now more than 47,000, including more than 15,000 nursing home residents.
But the July report allowed Mr. Cuomo to treat the nursing home issue as resolved last year, paving the way for him to focus on touting New York’s success in controlling the virus.
“I am now thinking about writing a book about what we went through,” Mr. Cuomo said four days after the report’s release, his first public comments about a possible book.
Thanks to that bogus investigation, Cuomo felt he was able to pursue writing a book touting his leadership in the pandemic.