Some Democratic NY lawmakers push to strip Gov. Cuomo of emergency powers
More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers are calling to end Gov. Andrew Cuomo's emergency authority granted at the start of the pandemic in response to a leaked conversation involving the governor’s secretary Melissa DeRosa who admitted they withheld data surrounding nursing home deaths.
DeRosa told Democratic lawmakers on a call Wednesday that the administration took months to release data on the coronavirus death toll among nursing home residents because officials “froze” over worries the information was “going to be used against us."
Details of the call were first reported in the New York Post.
In recent weeks, a court order and state attorney general report has forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000, when it was previously reported as 8,500 - a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals. The new toll amounts to about one-seventh of the people living in nursing homes as of 2019 in New York.
"We need to take some action," said state Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, a Democrat. "[The Cuomo administration] intentionally withheld the data surrounding nursing homes from the Legislature because they were afraid it would be weaponized by the Trump administration."
DeRosa responded to the leak, saying she was just explaining the administration had to put the request by lawmakers on hold while they responded to a federal inquiry.
Melnick says he is convinced now is the right time to strip Gov. Cuomo’s emergency powers “and not wait until April 30 when the powers are expected to expire.”
Many are blaming the high death toll on the state’s decision early in the pandemic to send COVID-19-positive patients into nursing homes.
"We were getting so many calls from people who lost loved ones. People who had loved ones in nursing homes and we need a thorough investigation of how the March 25 order took place," said Republican state Sen. Sue Serino.
Orange County Sen. Mike Martucci is pushing for former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to be appointed as nursing homes special prosecutor.
AP Wire Services were used in this report.