New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his team have been under scrutiny for months due to their role in underreporting coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes. The New York Times’ latest report reveals that the governor’s aides hid more than 2,800 deaths that had occurred by June 2020 from the public.
State Attorney General Letitia James kicked off the controversy in January by suggesting that the actual death toll in nursing homes might be 50 percent higher than what is being officially reported.
The Cuomo administration was forced to reveal the real data, which aligned with James’s estimates. Cuomo and his team blamed Trump as the cause for their hiding the pandemic death toll, claiming that they were afraid of political scrutiny from the federal government.
However, the Cuomo administration had been hiding coronavirus deaths several months back. In July 2020, the administration had announced 6,432 nursing home coronavirus deaths (till June). But the Times claims that the state’s nursing homes saw 9,250 coronavirus deaths by that time, meaning that Cuomo and his aides had undercut the actual death toll by more than 40 percent.
Cuomo’s advisers suggested removing the deaths of nursing home residents admitted to hospitals, making the overall number of deaths in nursing homes appear to be much lower than it was.
The fake report allowed Cuomo to continue projecting himself as an administrator in firm control of the pandemic. New York State Assemblyman Democrat Ron Kim lashed out at Cuomo and his team for the criminal conspiracy of suppressing coronavirus data that could have allowed lawmakers to take better measures to protect people from the viral outbreak.
“The changes that Cuomo’s aides made to that report prove that they had the fuller accounting of the nursing home deaths, including the COVID-positive nursing home patients who died in hospitals, as early as last summer of 2020… We need a thorough investigation. We need to pursue charges if this is all true if they committed an obstruction of justice and suppression of data that we could have used to save people’s lives,” Kim told Fox News.
In an interview with HBO, CNN contributor Frank Bruni noted that the debacle surrounding Cuomo is a perfect example of the pitfalls of the media deifying and demonizing people. When Cuomo was giving daily coronavirus press briefings last year, many were praising him and some were even suggesting replacing Biden with Cuomo for the presidency. However, the nursing home death scandal has completely tarnished Cuomo’s image.
Revoking Cuomo’s powers
Lawmakers from the state of New York have approved a bill that will significantly cut down Cuomo’s pandemic emergency powers that were granted last year. The Senate approved the bill 43-30 and the state Assembly followed suit by passing the bill 107-43 a few hours later.
The bill will revoke Cuomo’s right to issue new orders related to the pandemic. However, his already existing orders will be kept intact with legislative oversight. Plus, Cuomo can also extend the orders he has already given.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now. We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances… This legislation creates a system with increased input while at the same time ensuring New Yorkers continue to be protected,” Senate Majority Leader Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.