NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke to press on Monday and blamed the "toxic political environment" for the nursing home deaths cover-up, saying that he wanted to get the "facts" straight regarding the nursing home scandal in his state.
"This past year, there is a toxic political environment," he said, "and everything gets politicized. And there's political spin, and there are facts, two very different things. I just want to make sure people have facts."
New York State Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into the nursing home deaths in New York state, finding that the state drastically underreported the number of dead in nursing homes, but up to 50 percent.
A top Cuomo staffer then said that the deaths were intentionally obfuscated, so that there wouldn't be an issue with regard to that undercount. On Monday, Cuomo was asked to account for this, and to take responsibility for these acts of his administration.
Cuomo said that the the New York State Department of Health has always fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals, saying that they have always been fully reported.
Cuomo said that "nationwide, 36 percent of the [COVID] deaths are in the nursing homes." A recording of his top aide was released on Thursday, where she said that they had withheld data from federal authorities.
"Last August," Cuomo said, "DOJ sent a letter to Democratic governors, four of them, NY, NJ, MI, PA... asking for information on public nursing homes. NY state legislature also sent a letter asking for information on nursing homes."
"We paused the State Legislature's request while we were finishing the DOJ request. We told both houses, the Assembly and the Senate, that we had [a] DOJ request for information, and we were prioritizing that. We did give the DOJ request precedence."
No word was forthcoming on Cuomo's part about why the two requests couldn't have been handled at the same time, since it was essentially the same information being requested by both parties.
Cuomo claimed that "there is much distortion around what is called the Department of Health memo on March 25th and I want to make sure that we get the facts on this."
On the subject of patients being moved back to nursing homes after being treated in hospitals, Cuomo said that "On March 23, the Center for Disease Control, CDC, put out guidance for people sending people from hospitals back to nursing homes. NYS DOH followed that guidance. Twelve other states, at least, followed that guidance."
Cuomo pointed out that there was a "void," for which he took responsibility, saying that the "void begets disinformation," and that disinformation results in pain of individuals.
Cuomo said "People died alone. It was horrific. And then the void in information we created started misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories... The truth is everybody did everything they could."
The beleaguered governor has his hands full these days, with people calling for his resignation, and for criminal investigations to be launched.
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