New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to have obscured the number of COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes — possibly at the cost of the lives of seniors in those homes
According to interviews and newly uncovered documents by the New York Times, Cuomo and his administration overruled state health officials several times over the release of accurate nursing home death reports.
This went on for at least five months.
A study that was never published suggests that by the end of May last year, when there were around 9,739 COVID-19 deaths in New York, 35 percent of them came from nursing homes.
The version of the report that was published stated that approximately 21 percent of deaths were from nursing homes.
This year, the full death toll of nursing home occupants was finally released. Numbers were undercounted by as much as 50 percent. More than 15,500 nursing home residents with COVID-19 have died, the report stated.
It appears that several documents drafted in the early stages of the pandemic were intentionally never published. These include a scientific paper and an audit of the official death numbers.
The documents show that Cuomo’s aides prevented responsible parties from learning the true death toll in nursing homes. If released, these numbers would have had to be shared with lawmakers and the public.
Cuomo nevertheless gave an executive order on March 25th, 2020 that mandated hospitalized patients to be released back to the nursing homes, provided they could be efficiently cared for.
At that time, hospitals were facing a shortage of staff and ICU beds, leaving the nursing home staff at an impasse. If patients were contagious, they would then have spread the disease to other high-risk residents in the home.
Cuomo denies any wrongdoing and urges patience as the FBI investigation develops. Investigators are trying to uncover whether or not he intentionally released misleading data as the pandemic raged in New York.
Investigation, calls for resignation
Two letters addressed to the New York health department were never mailed. This coverage of controversial deaths coincides with the time when Cuomo was writing his book about managing the pandemic.
The book became an instant best seller, earning the New York governor notoriety and money.
Both Democrats and Republicans have demanded that Cuomo resign over the past year.
Meanwhile, the governor faces additional controversies. Several women accused him of sexual assault. Also, it was recently revealed that early in the pandemic he gave his family priority access to COVID-19 testing.