New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: The nursing homes deaths cover-up…

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Andrew Cuomo is the Governor of New York. Once praised as the king of the US Covid-19 response, he is facing fresh calls for his removal from office on Friday after new allegations emerged that he and senior staff covered up the extent of the virus deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

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The aides who were involved in changing the report included Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services; and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to Mr. Cuomo brought back to work on the pandemic. None had public health expertise.

The intervention was the earliest action yet known in an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that concealed how many nursing home residents died in the pandemic.

By J. David Goodman and Danny Hakim

  • March 4, 2021Updated 11:33 p.m. ET

Top aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were alarmed: A report written by state health officials had just landed, and it included a count of how many nursing home residents in New York had died in the pandemic.

The number — more than 9,000 by that point in June — was not public, and the governor’s most senior aides wanted to keep it that way. They rewrote the report to take it out, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The extraordinary intervention, which came just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, was the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a months long effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths.

After the state attorney general revealed earlier this year that thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted, Mr. Cuomo finally released the complete data, saying he had withheld it out of concern that the Trump administration might pursue a politically motivated inquiry into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes.

But Mr. Cuomo and his aides actually began concealing the numbers months earlier, as his aides were battling their own top health officials, and well before requests for data arrived from federal authorities, according to documents and interviews with six people with direct knowledge of the discussions, who requested anonymity to describe the closed-door debates.

The central role played by the governor’s top aides reflected the lengths to which Mr. Cuomo has gone in the middle of a deadly pandemic to control data, brush aside public health expertise and bolster his position as a national leader in the fight against the coronavirus.

As the nursing home report was being written, the New York State Health Department’s data — contained in a chart reviewed by The Times that was included in a draft — put the death toll roughly 50 percent higher than the figure then being cited publicly by the Cuomo administration.

The Health Department worked on the report with McKinsey, a consulting firm hired by Mr. Cuomo to help with the pandemic response. The chart they created compared nursing home deaths in New York with other states. New York’s total of 9,250 deaths far exceeded that of the next-highest state, New Jersey, which had 6,150 at the time.
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The aides who were involved in changing the report included Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services; and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to Mr. Cuomo brought back to work on the pandemic. None had public health expertise.

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https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6232067184001

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The Guardian

Cuomo faces calls to resign amid allegations of hiding nursing home Covid deaths

New York’s governor criticized following leaked recording of top aide admitting the administration withheld data

Andrew Cuomo – New York’s governor who was once hailed the king of the US Covid-19 response – was facing fresh calls for his removal from office on Friday after new allegations emerged that he and senior staff covered up the extent of the virus deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

The New York Post said it obtained a leaked recording of the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitting to Democrats in private conversations this week that the administration withheld the true data because it feared the Department of Justice would use the figures to pursue complaints of state misconduct.

“Basically, we froze,” the newspaper said DeRosa told the lawmakers, referring to tweets from Donald Trump last August that she said turned the issue of New York’s nursing home deaths “into this giant political football”, and his calls for the justice department to investigate.

“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”

On Friday, however, New York’s 14 Democratic state senators released a joint statement calling for the repeal of Cuomo’s emergency executive powers to deal with the pandemic. “While Covid-19 has tested the limits of our people and state … it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the governor are no longer appropriate,” they wrote.

It emerged earlier this week that New York’s nursing home coronavirus death toll was far higher than Cuomo’s administration had initially admitted. New figures were released following a court order in response to a freedom of information request by the Empire Center for Public Policy showed a significant rise from about 9,000 to close to 15,000 once the previously omitted deaths of nursing home residents who died in hospitals were factored in.

“Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died,” Cuomo said at a news conference in January after New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, released a damning report stating nursing home deaths were 50% higher than his administration had claimed.

DeRosa’s admission added fuel to growing calls for Cuomo’s resignation, impeachment or removal from office, and on Friday the New York congressman Tom Reed said he would pursue legal action against the governor’s aide.

“I’m going to be looking at filing a personal criminal complaint against this individual today in local law enforcement offices as well as federal offices, because she needs to be arrested today,” he said in an interview with Fox Business.

Other Republicans were quick to attack Cuomo. “If the governor is involved, he should be immediately removed from office,” said Rob Ortt, state senator and minority leader, in a statement.

DeRosa’s admission, he said, “was the latest in a series of disturbing acts of corruption by his administration. Instead of apologizing or providing answers to the thousands of New York families who lost loved ones, the governor’s administration made apologies to politicians behind closed doors for the ‘political inconvenience’ this scandal has caused them.”

Nick Langworthy, the state GOP chair, said: “Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor. Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away,” according to Politico.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/12/andrew-cuomo-new-york-nursing-home-covid-deaths-leaked-recording

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