ANDREW Cuomo should have his emergency Covid powers ripped from him for ‘covering up’ nursing home death stats, demand outraged Democrats.
Their call comes as the New York Governor’s top aide admits it took months to release the incriminating data for fears it would be “used against us”.
Gov Cuomo’s administration hid the true extent of the New York’s nursing home Covid deathsCredit: Alamy Live News
Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers that ‘basically, we froze’Credit: AP:Associated Press
New Yorkers wearing protective masks and social distancing during the pandemic rocking AmericaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The true Covid-related death toll of nursing home residents between March and August last year may be twice as high as the 6,400 officially reported, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
A group of fired-up Democrats have torn into the administration for a lack of transparency.
In a letter, 14 Democratic lawmakers urged for Cuomo’s coronavirus pandemic emergency powers to be purged.
They wrote: “While Covid-19 has tested the limits of our people and state – and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments – it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.
“While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”
‘BETRAYAL BY CUOMO’
“This is a betrayal of the public trust,” Andrew Gounardes, a Democratic state senator, also raged on Twitter.
“There needs to be full accountability for what happened,” he added.
Blasting the ‘cover up’, Republicans have called for both Cuomo and the aide, secretary to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, to quit their jobs.
Cuomo snubbed state lawmakers’ efforts last summer to give greater disclosure over the number of nursing home residents dying after contracting Covid.
Around that time, the US Department of Justice also began seeking stats on deaths of nursing home residents.
But, it’s recently transpired that those residents taken to hospitals were deliberately not counted in the state’s break-out of nursing home deaths.
Top aide Melissa DeRosa said the administration was worried the figures would be ‘used against us’Credit: © 2020 Pacific Press
More than 13,000 care home residents in the state have died from CovidCredit: AFP or licensors
DeRosa told Democratic leaders: “Basically, we froze.
“We weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, and what… was going to be used against us – we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
She said the administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the statistics last August because “right around the same time (Donald Trump) turns this into a giant political football.”
Politicians have this week accused the governor of masking the true extent of the crisis.
Ironically the cover-up came at a time when Cuomo was publicly deriding Trump – accusing him of failing to be transparent with the public over the worsening killer pandemic.
Expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.
Democrats, New York
In recent weeks, the state has been forced to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000.
Yet it had previously reported 8,500 fatalities – a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals.
It’s unclear why New York couldn’t provide data that nearly every other state published to state lawmakers and the Justice Department at the same time.
DeRosa, defending the nursing home bombshell, said today that New York’s administration was “committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic”.
Journalists and New Yorkers have been asking the Cuomo administration for data about Covid outbreaks at nursing homes since spring.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said: “Crucial information should never be withheld from entities that are empowered to pursue oversight.
“As always, we will be discussing next steps as a conference.”
New York City Democrat Richard Gottfried added: “I don’t think the state’s explanation is acceptable.”
Above: the full statement demanding that Cuomo be stripped of his emergency Covid powers