Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Secretary Melissa DeRosa admitted withholding data on COVID-19 in nursing homes, saying that he did it out of fear that the Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump would use the information against them.
The New York Post and CNN both reported that DeRosa’s comments were made during a private zoom call on Wednesday when she apologized to Democratic lawmakers for freezing when asked for the data back in August.
Compared to a report released last month by New York Attorney General Letitia James, this admission made by DeRosa would mean that Cuomo’s administration undercounted the deaths within nursing homes by almost 50 percent.
The Attorney General's findings were similar to that of a Syracuse.com investigation published earlier. The statewide death toll at nursing homes is almost 15,000 compared to the 8,500 that was previously disclosed.
An Associated Press report also showed that more than 9,000 COVID-19 patients were sent to state nursing homes during the early months of the pandemic, which is more than 40 percent higher than previously disclosed.
In the early months of 2020, the Governor had defended his policy of accepting patients suspected of carrying COVID-19 claiming that it was in-line with guidance from the Trump administration. However, we now know that these regulations resulted in outbreaks of COVID-19 cases that infected thousands of elderly patients, which led to hundreds’ deaths.
On March 25, Cuomo’s administration issued a directive that made it so that nursing homes could no longer refuse patients only because they had COVID-19. While this initiative aided hospitals by freeing up space, it most likely spread the virus among those most susceptible to the disease.
In the aftermath of the report, several Republicans have called for Cuomo to resign. DeRosa’s comments may threaten Cuomo’s plans for a history-making fourth term next November.