Cuomo aide admits nursing-home catastrophe hidden to avoid investigation

By Bob Unruh

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who ordered nursing homes to take COVID patients during the peak of the pandemic – hid the real numbers of deaths not only from the public but the federal government, according to an aide.

The New York Post reported the “stunning admission” by Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor, came during a telephone call with Democratic lawmakers.

She said the administration refused a legislative request for a tally “right around the same time [when President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” she said, according to an audio recording obtained by the Post.

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

She said “basically, we froze” when Trump directed the Department of Justice “to do an investigation into us.”

“Because then 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,” she said.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., called for Cuomo and his senior team to be prosecuted immediately, both at the state and federal levels.The reaction took almost no time to develop, reported.

“Governor Cuomo, the secretary to the governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the attorney general of New York state and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Stefanik said. “This bombshell admission of a cover-up and the remarks by the secretary to the governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power.”

Republican New York state Sen. Rob Ortt demanded a “top to bottom” investigation and said Cuomo’s emergency powers be removed until it’s sorted out.

“Instead of apologizing or providing answer 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,” he said.

“If the governor is involved, he should be immediately removed from office,” Ortt said.

DeRosa asked the lawmakers to have “a little bit of appreciation of the context” surrounding the Cuomo administration’s reporting of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

“So we do apologize,” DeRosa said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

It was March 25 when Cuomo demanded nursing homes accept patients returning from hospitals, including those who tested positive for COVID or whose status was unknown.

The state then changed its policy so that it counted as nursing home deaths only those who died while physically in a nursing home. Anyone transported to a hospital, who then died, was not counted.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported more than 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients were released into New York nursing homes under the order.

In August, Cuomo said: “Look at the basic facts where New York is versus other states. You look at where New York is as a percentage of nursing home deaths, it’s all the way at the bottom of the list.”

But the Cuomo administration revealed in January that at least 12,743 nursing home residents died from COVID, 50% higher that the state’s official tally.

“Whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it’s the people dying. People died,” Cuomo said in January. “Who cares? … died in a hospital, died in a nursing home. They died.”

Assemblyman Ron Kim, D-Queens, was on the call and told the Post DeRosa’s comments were “like they admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice.”

“That’s how I understand their reasoning of why they were unable to share, in real time, the data,” Kim said.

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