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 deaths.
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 COVID-positive residents.
“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 began.
“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 that.