New York Governor Andrew Cuomo abruptly admitted on Monday that some data regarding Covid-19 deaths for nursing home residents was late and incomplete, but categorically denied covering up in his first public comments as controversial remarks by Big Aid last week. Discrediting him as a national political and media star in the fight against Corona virus.
The scandal was slowly brewing but exploded after Melissa DeRosa, Como’s assistant, admitted in a video call that Albany was slow in providing the data that state lawmakers had requested. She said she wanted to first deal with information requests from the Justice Department and mainly “freeze”, fearing that the numbers would be used against her by the previous Trump administration.
New York Governor Cuomo admits to mistakes in delaying the nursing home’s data, says “everyone did their best”
In a press briefing on Monday, Cuomo said his weary and dedicated staff were too busy to respond quickly and accurately enough to inquiries from the press and families of Covid victims. This, he said, created an information vacuum that was full of “suspicion, irony and conspiracy theories.”
“I understand that the public has had many questions and the press has many questions and concerns about nursing homes and I understand that they were not answered quickly enough, and should have been given priority. But there was a lot going on. Everyone was confused. They were responding to the Ministry of Justice.” .
Nature hates the vacuum, and so does the political system. If you don’t provide information, someone will … the void we created allowed misinformation and this created even more anxiety for loved ones, ”he said.
“It’s not as if people in the south of France are on vacation,” he added. “We were here every day. We should have answered questions faster.”
In releasing the death toll in nursing homes, critics pointed out that Como’s administration did not include deaths of nursing home patients who ultimately died in hospitals. The state has also been accused of recklessly releasing injured patients in nursing homes, something Cuomo repeatedly denied and reiterated vehemently on Monday.
But DeRossa’s comments sparked fresh outrage on the left and the right with calls for an investigation. A bipartisan group of senators has called for the governor’s emergency powers granted during the pandemic to be revoked. Even some local Republican officials have raised the possibility of their removal.
Cuomo’s surprising defensive stance is a sharp contrast to his stature as a young ruler who turned New York from a horrific epicenter of the global pandemic into a country with one of the lowest infection rates in the country, and has written a book on how he did it. (American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic). He was voted president of the National Governors Association and happily threw out the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 at a wide press briefing.
On Monday, Cuomo insisted that data preparation for the Justice Department, which requested information on the nursing home in July in October, took precedence over state legislators, and that lawmakers knew this. He noted that their anger was deceiving and cruel in creating the false impression on some of those whose loved ones died in nursing homes that the deaths could have been avoided. He aroused his self-doubts when taking care of his ailing father, the late Governor Mario Como.
My father did not die in a nursing home. He had a heart condition for a long period of time and he looked at me and I spoke to the doctors and I was in charge of helping him. I often think about whether I have done my best. Have you made all the right decisions? “
In response to a question from a journalist whether the investigation would help clear the air, he said: “I don’t think there is anything that should be clarified here … All the numbers we provided were correct. We did not provide all the numbers we asked, which created a vacuum and confusing people and allowed For conspiracy theories to fester [in a] A politically toxic environment. “
Cuomo’s troubles come as another prominent Democrat, his California counterpart Gov. Gavin Newsom, faces a recall campaign to deal with the pandemic. His opponents said they had reached the 1.5 million signatures – which need verification – required to display.
Separately today, Governor Cuomo extended New York City’s overnight subway service by two hours as the city moved toward reopening. The system will only be down between 2-4am starting February 22nd to clean the subway cars. That’s before big venues across the state (with a capacity of 10,000 or more) were allowed to reopen at 10% capacity with fans tested by Covid. It will mostly affect sports venues but it holds promise to revive live entertainment as well. A festival of 100 Days of Live Events called NY Pops Up is due to start on February 20.
Como allowed the resumption of low-capacity indoor dining in the city last Friday and only extended opening hours for restaurants and bars in the state by an hour until 11 pm.