Cuomo stops short of apology, denies cover-up in nursing home deaths

'We should have done a better job of providing as much information as we could,' Cuomo admitted.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denied Monday that there was a cover-up in the undercounting of deaths of nursing home patients due to coronavirus. However, he did admit that his administration’s lack of transparency fueled a news cycle “filled with skepticism and cynicism and conspiracy theories, which furthered the confusion.”

Cuomo did not offer an apology for his mishandling of the numbers but acknowledged “there was a delay” in providing accurate data. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not offer an apology for his mishandling of the numbers of nursing home deaths due to coronavirus but acknowledged “there was a delay” in providing accurate data. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“We should have done a better job of providing as much information as we could as quickly as we could,” the Democratic governor said Monday. “No excuses. I accept responsibility for that.” 

The fallout comes in the wake of reports that Cuomo, whose state was once the epicenter of the pandemic, was underreporting the scope of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes after he directed the facilities to accept more than 9,000 patients recovering from COVID-19 who’d been released from hospitals. 

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According to Associated Press, the new total is 40% higher than what the state’s health department previously released. Cuomo’s March 25 order is now being blamed for spreading the virus and death in New York nursing homes. 

Death tolls in long-term care facilities have also been adjusted; new totals acknowledge that COVID deaths of these residents may be as high as 15,000, increased from 8,500. 

A top Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, said last week that withholding the information after former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department requested it was a deliberate one out of concerns they would launch a civil rights violation investigation.

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“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, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said on a video call with other New York Democrats. 

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, released a report at the end of January that confirmed the undercounted totals. The report notes the admissions from hospitals to nursing homes “may have contributed to increased risk of nursing home resident infection and subsequent fatalities,” while also maintaining that the issue would require further study.  

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