State GOP leaders demand probe of nursing home death count
State Republican leaders are demanding Democrats issue a subpoena to launch a full investigation into the state's handling of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes.
They continued their calls for transparency from the state Health Department during a Zoom news conference. Their demand follows the release of a report by the state attorney general's office that found nursing home deaths could be undercounted by up to 50%.
"One of the most significant things [the report] did was – it validated our concerns that we have been voicing for many, many months," said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R-94th District)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aides said that the count of total deaths was unchanged and that Cuomo was not given any specific guidance on counting nursing home deaths from the Trump administration.
The governor says those deaths were recorded separately to avoid double counting. He added last week that he believes “everybody did the best they could.”
The news conference was called a "cheap political stunt" by the Senate majority spokesperson.
"When the GOP were in power, they failed to issue one single subpoena over the course of an entire decade. Now is the time for real leadership, not grandstanding," the statement said in part.
The Department of Health did release the number of deaths of nursing home residents inside hospitals through Jan. 19 as 3,829. The release of information came just days after Senate Democrats threatened to subpoena the state.
New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker is set to testify later this month after the meeting, scheduled for today, was pushed back.
Spokesperson Mike Murphy full statement on behalf of the Senate Majority:
"This is nothing but a cheap political stunt. When the GOP were in power, they failed to issue one single subpoena over the course of an entire decade. Now is the time for real leadership not grandstanding. We've received the full nursing home numbers only after our own Democratic Senators stood up to the Governor and threatened a subpoena nine days ago and the Attorney General issued her report. We will continue to lead and use all tools at our disposal to get all information related to these important issues."