Health officials in New York under disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo “misled the public” on the number of nursing home deaths in that state during the pandemic “even after” it had corrected any discrepancies privately.
According to a Tuesday audit by Thomas DiNapoli, the state’s comptroller, this is what it looks like.
The audit concludes that Cuomo’s Health Department failed to account for the deaths of over 4,000 seniors in nursing homes.
On March 25, 2020, the then-Governor Cuomo made an executive order that required nursing homes to accept patients who had been positive for coronavirus.
The order prohibited nursing homes from requiring incoming patients “to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
The audit notes that health officials almost immediately and frequently altered their defining parameters for reporting nursing home deaths to the public “with virtually no explanation.”
“All told, for the nearly 10-month period from April 2020 to February 2021, the Department (of Health) failed to account for approximately 4,100 lives lost due to COVID-19,” it says as a key finding to the report.
New York comptroller audit concludes Cuomo admin undercounted COVID nursing home deaths | Fox News https://t.co/WuMldYphlg
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) March 16, 2022
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RELATED: Task Force Concludes Cuomo’s Nursing Home Policy Did Lead To More Nursing Home Deaths
Cuomo Underreported Nursing Home Deaths
The state comptroller’s audit marks the third official inquiry into the scandal that concludes Cuomo’s administration significantly downplayed the number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
Officials initially counted only deaths in nursing homes and not seniors who died there.
The New York Times points out that hiding the true number was beneficial to Cuomo’s career.
“Those efforts coincided with Mr. Cuomo’s attempts to elevate his public image at the height of his national popularity in 2020, including through daily televised briefings and the publication of a book that burnished his response to the pandemic,” the Times reports.
Recent audits have eliminated any suspicion that the administration deliberately falsified the numbers.
The Times notes that “the administration was aware of the higher death toll and continued to withhold it even after it had apparently corrected most discrepancies by May 2020, a few months into the pandemic.”
No amount of desperate preening TV ads will cover for Cuomo’s crimes.
Kathy Hochul is now the Cuomo heirloom. It is hard to believe her silence and inaction.
There must be accountability & justice for families who lost loved ones. https://t.co/r52L9qyEM5
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) March 15, 2022
Reported by: Former Governor Disgraced Cuomo ordered to pay $5.1 million from COVID book deal
Cuomo’s Political Comeback
The audit on Cuomo’s nursing home cover-up comes as the former Governor has been squirming his way back into the public eye for what many assume will be an attempt at a political comeback.
In the past few weeks, he has published multiple ads for political causes.
Part of the hubris involved in making such a comeback comes because Cuomo was forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations that fizzled out from a criminal aspect, and has never paid a price politically – despite three separate investigations pointing out he misled the public – over the nursing home scandal.
Ron Kim (state assemblyman) argues these findings are of criminal nature, and they should be dealt with accordingly.
“This is criminal public fraud that led to unnecessary deaths,” he said.
This criminal public fraud led to the unnecessary death of many people. https://t.co/SwwXu3e3r7
— Ron T. Kim (@rontkim) March 15, 2022
A statement by DiNapoli says the findings are indeed “troubling.”
“Our audit findings are extremely troubling,” he said. “The public was misled by those at the highest level of state government through distortion and suppression of the facts when New Yorkers deserved the truth.”
“This is the third independent report to verify his misconduct,” Kim added. “His deadly policies lead to thousands of deaths and ruined countless others.”
“He suppressed life and death data that lawmakers would have needed to truly protect all New Yorkers.”
Cuomo’s actions were never about protecting our most vulnerable, they were about pure egotism and self-enrichment at the cost of others’ lives.
Here is my complete statement@NYSComptroller’s nursing home report: pic.twitter.com/zrUImr95Mg
— Ron T. Kim (@rontkim) March 15, 2022
This audit will finally bring about accountability.
This past summer, President Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to investigate whether the civil rights of residents in the state’s nursing homes were violated by Cuomo’s admission policy related to the pandemic.
Kathy Hochul replaced Cuomo in New York as governor following his resignation and apologized for the loss of loved ones at nursing home. These families were hopeful that Hochul would take responsibility for the events.
Affirming the above @NYSComptroller’s nursing home state audit, you need to call for a complete top to bottom bipartisan investigation of what happened in New York nursing homes and the part your administration played in deaths of thousands of seniors.
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) March 15, 2022
Instead, Hochul’s Health Department responded to the audit by deflecting responsibility to the previous administration.
“Whatever criticisms may now be directed at the prior administration relating to issues of transparency, or the particular categories of information that were publicly disclosed, those ultimately were matters for the executive chamber of the prior administration and not department personnel,” wrote Kristin M. Proud, the department’s acting executive deputy commissioner, in a letter of response.
Hochul was Lieutenant Governor under Cuomo. This made her part of the previous administration.
“The state should provide the families who lost loved ones with answers as to the actual number of nursing homes residents who died,” DiNapoli said. “These families are still grieving, and they deserve no less.”