The top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) admitted to Democratic state lawmakers on Wednesday that the administration withheld from federal investigators the true data on nursing home deaths last summer from COVID-19.
The aide, Melissa DeRoma, apologized privately to those lawmakers in a meeting—the audio of which was heard and reported by The New York Post.
DeRoma said the administration “froze” out of fear that the actual numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post said.
“The stunning admission of a coverup was made by secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because ‘right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,’ according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting,” wrote The Post.
DeRoma, on the call, continued to go after Trump on the issue.
“Because then,” she continued, as The Post reported, “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.”
One must immediately ask: Where is the concern and compassion for the families who tragically lost loved ones—where is their apology? And why did the Cuomo administration ever direct nursing home facilities last year to admit infected patients?
One can argue that the nation, at that time, was still in the early months of the pandemic—and that so much was unknown. That people were doing their level best in the middle of a crisis. That new information, new data, new discoveries, were coming out every few weeks. That the states were scrambling—working 24/7 to comprehend the new virus and its impacts on residents, on business, on society.
But there is more to the story. And the tragedy that occurred in New York nursing homes did not occur in most other states—the magnitude of which people are still struggling to grasp.
“The new number of 9,056 recovering patients sent to hundreds of nursing homes is more than 40 percent higher than what the state health department previously released,” the AP reported. “And it raises new questions as to whether a March 25 directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration helped spread sickness and death among residents, a charge the state disputes.”
Continued the same outlet, “‘The lack of transparency and the meting out of bits of important data has undermined our ability to both recognize the scope and severity of what’s going on’ and address it, said Richard Mollot, the executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, a residents advocacy group. The new figures come as the Cuomo administration has been forced in recent weeks to acknowledge it has been underreporting the overall number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents. It is now nearly 15,000 up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.”
Some New York State Democrats are stepping forward to share their serious concern about what’s going on.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), for example, who himself lost a relative in a nursing home last year—presumably of COVID, as The New York Post suggested—told The Post, “It’s not enough how contrite they are with us. They need to show that to the public and the families—and they haven’t done that.”
Janice Dean, senior meteorologist at Fox News, lost both her in-laws last year due to the spread of COVID in nursing homes in New York. She has not taken any of this sitting down.
“This is the biggest bombshell that we have had so far,” Dean said on Fox News Primetime on Thursday night about the reporting from The Post. “We had a trickling in of the numbers. We knew the numbers were much bigger than the governor was admitting. So, over 15,000 residents died from getting COVID in their nursing homes … They just admitted that they put over 9,000 infected patients in nursing homes … [and] his secretary, Melissa DeRosa, admitted that they covered it all up.”
Dean is calling for an independent, bipartisan investigation.
“Justice needs to be served,” said Dean. “We don’t have our loved ones here today … and I want justice.” She added that she’s never been a political person, but that she’s speaking out on behalf of her family.
At a press conference this week on the issue, Gov. Cuomo said the following: “Whether they died in a hospital or died in a nursing home—people died. We’re below the national average in number of deaths in nursing homes. But who cares? They died.”
Readers can be the judge of whether or not those comments were appropriate and adequate.
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This article is by Maureen Mackey. She is a writer, editor, and web content strategist, as well as a regular contributor to Christian News Journal.