Governor Andrew Cuomo went on the defensive on Monday, finally addressing the scandal that broke last week when the governor’s top aide admitted that the state delayed in releasing the number of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths while it handled an investigation from the Department of Justice.
Cuomo repeated many of the claims he has made in the past, but when it came time to apologize for withholding this data?
“Apologize?" he questioned. “Look, I have said repeatedly: We made a mistake in creating the void. When we didn't provide information, it allowed press, people, cynics, politicians to fill the void."
And yet, Cuomo was pressed repeatedly to release this data, all the while he insisted that it didn’t matter if nursing home resident deaths were counted as hospital deaths since in the end they died.
However, these numbers do matter, since on March 25, the governor issued a memo that allowed nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients.
An Associated Press report showed that facilities accepted over 9,000 COVID positive residents into their homes during that time.
Cuomo now addressing the March 25 memo that allowed nursing homes to accept COVID positive patients.— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) February 15, 2021
Says 12 other states also followed this guidance from the CDC.
Repeats another line about how worried hospitals were about having enough beds as cases spiked
Cuomo also repeated a claim he has made before, but has yet to be proven by outside health experts, that COVID-19 was already present in these facilities, brought in by staff.
“COVID did not get into the nursing homes by people coming from hospitals,” Cuomo claimed. “COVID got into nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing home when we didn’t even know we had COVID.”
"People are still dying in nursing homes...the heating repair man is bringing it in."— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) February 15, 2021
Cuomo is saying that if he were to do it all over again they would have answered people's questions sooner adding that the "void allowed disinformation."
"Everything was done."
Numerous lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been calling for a full investigation into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes and for his emergency powers to be rescinded.
The governor said these sort of decisions should not be politicized and that legislative leaders in both houses agreed to the delay, although lawmakers deny this claim.
“There is nothing to investigate,” Cuomo insisted. “We did tell the houses and I’m sure there was a breakdown in communication now between the staff and the house and the actual legislators.”
When asked if he would support an investigation into the nursing home situation: "There is nothing to investigate," Cuomo insists.— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) February 15, 2021
All numbers have been reported now accurately- Cuomo claims
But it’s not just lawmakers calling for an investigation.
The Green Party and the Working Families Party said the legislature needs to hold the Cuomo administration accountable.
“The governor’s administration has failed in both their duty to be transparent and truthful in their dealings, but also in their ability to allow families to properly grieve and to ensure that future policy choices like this will not be repeated,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, state director of the New York Working Families Party.
“I think the legislature, if they did nothing on this, that would be a serious breach of public trust,” said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York.
The governor did toss out possible legislation that would make sure more money from for-profit nursing homes goes toward direct care such as staffing and PPE rather than profits. However, he has yet to release specifics.