Gov. Cuomo faces bipartisan calls for accountability on nursing home death count
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is walking a political tightrope amid
allegations his administration hid the true number of nursing home COVID-19
The revelations have prompted both Republicans and
Democrats to take back or reduce his emergency powers during the pandemic.
Last week, the governor's secretary, Melissa DeRosa,
admitted that the administration delayed the release of COVID-19 death numbers
in nursing homes. She said they were worried they would be used against them in
a federal investigation.
Gov. Cuomo said on Monday that the whole situation has been
politicized, but did call the reluctance to release the numbers “a mistake.”
Vivian Zayas' 78-year-old mother died from coronavirus
after undergoing rehab at a West Islip nursing home. Unhappy with the way the
facility handled things, she and her sister founded an organization to hold
nursing homes and New York state accountable for how they treated
“We're not calling for an apology, we're calling for
accountability,” she says. “We're calling for him to say why he was too busy to
give the data, yet he had time to write a book.”
Critics allege Gov. Cuomo was downplaying the
number of nursing home deaths to deflect criticism from a March 2020 directive,
ordering nursing home residents who were hospitalized with COVID-19 be sent
back to the nursing home.
Republican Assemblyman Mike Montesano, of Glen Head, has
called for the governor to resign
, saying he deliberately withheld information
from lawmakers and the public.
“It's tantamount to obstructing a governmental
investigation. We want accountability and more importantly, we want to issue
subpoenas for documents that we want,” said Montesano.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele, from Sag Harbor, says it's time to
take away the special emergency powers Gov. Cuomo was given when the pandemic
“We know a lot more than we knew a month ago, but we don't
know everything. So there certainly needs to be more investigations. They need
to be independent,” he told News 12.
The number of COVID-19-related nursing home deaths in New
York is roughly 13,000. The state initially said it was about 40% less than