Cuomo’s aide apologizes to lawmakers for withholding COVID-19 death toll in New York nursing homes By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo conducts a daily briefing during the Valhalla coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A senior adviser to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this week apologized to state lawmakers that the governor’s office withheld requested data showing the death toll in nursing homes from COVID-19, according to transcripts of the conversation published by local media. . Assistant Melissa DeRosa told Democratic lawmakers in a call Wednesday that Cuomo’s office feared information about the death toll would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors, according to the New York Post, which reported for the first time on the call. “And we basically froze,” DeRosa said, as reported by the Post The comments came about two weeks after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report that said the actual number of nursing home resident deaths between March and August of last year could be double those. 6,400 officially reported. Angered by what they perceive as a cover-up, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they are reconsidering their decision to grant Cuomo emergency powers last year to deal with the new coronavirus pandemic. “This is a betrayal of the public trust,” Andrew Gounardes, a Democratic state senator, wrote on Twitter. “There needs to be full responsibility for what happened.” Cuomo rebuffed efforts by state lawmakers last summer to force greater disclosure on the number of nursing home residents who died after contracting COVID-19. Nursing home residents who were taken to hospitals were not counted in the surge in nursing home deaths in the state, which lawmakers saw as a masking of the true extent of the crisis. Around the same time, the US Department of Justice also began looking for data on the deaths of nursing home residents. The department was then overseen by President Donald Trump, a Republican with whom Cuomo fought frequently, and Cuomo blamed the president for not being transparent to the public about the worsening pandemic. In a statement Friday, DeRosa said his office decided that the federal request should be the priority before moving on to the request of state legislators. “As I said in a call with legislators, we were not able to comply with your request as quickly as anyone would have liked,” his statement said. The Cuomo administration also tried unsuccessfully to withhold the data when requested by the Empire Center, a conservative think tank, through transparency laws. A judge ordered the release of the figures this month, and the state has released data showing that thousands of more nursing home residents died from COVID-19, even if their deaths occurred after being transferred to a nursing home. hospital.

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