The Chief Deputy Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, he admitted in a call with Democratic lawmakers who delayed the delivery of data on deaths from coronavirus in nursing homes for fear that the Department of Justice, then under the Administration of Donald Trump, you could use those numbers “against you.”
Comments from Melissa DeRosa, considered Cuomo’s closest aide, have led to an increase in the number of legislators, both from Democratic Party and the Republican, who demand that the governor be withdrawn from his emergency powers, which allow him to impose regulations and restrictions related to the coronavirus unilaterally.
The controversial call, made by Zoom and of a private nature, took place with Democratic legislators, who last August had asked for additional data on the number of deaths in nursing homes.
DeRosa admitted that he asked lawmakers last September if the Cuomo Administration could “pause” data collection and release the information after the country’s Justice Department had investigated New York State’s response to the coronavirus.
“Basically, we stood still because we were in a position where we weren’t sure what we were going to give to the Justice Department or what we were going to give to you, (because) what we said was going to be used against us and we didn’t know if there was going to be an investigation, “DeRosa said in conversation. “That played a big role in all of this,” he admitted.
The details of this private interaction were released by the governor’s own office after a local conservative outlet, the New York Post, publish part of the information.
Cuomo had already been accused of “making up” the number of deceased for coronavirus in nursing homes in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the US during the spring of 2020, after the state attorney general, Letitia James, published a lengthy report.
In it, James alleged that Cuomo officials had not included in the nursing home deaths all those elderly who were transferred from this type of center to hospitals and that they ended up dying there.
After the New York Post information was published, DeRosa issued a statement in which he said that in the call he was simply trying to explain that “the request of the legislators had to be delayed to first deal with the request of the federal government“.
“As I said in the call with the legislators, we could not satisfy their request as quickly as we would have liked. But we are committed to being better allies in the future, since we share the same objective that New Yorkers are as healthy as possible during the pandemic, “he insisted in the letter.
Last January, James released a report that denounced that the state did not count thousands of deaths from Covid-19 registered in nursing homes, which could be up to 50% more than the official ones.
The state government has placed more than 8,500 deaths in residences, but James’s investigation points out that the number could be much higher and denounced that several of these establishments did not comply with basic measures to stop the infections.
Since the crisis broke out due to the pandemic, many voices have accused the Cuomo Administration of having aggravated the crisis in these residences with measures such as the directive that ordered those establishments to accept positive patients for coronavirus.