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Democratic leaders of the New York State Senate are reportedly working to strip New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers in the aftermath of revelations about his handling of pandemic.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been demanding answers since a top Cuomo aide admitted that the Governor’s administration hid data on senior deaths at nursing homes and long-term care facilities over fears of a Department of Justice investigation. During a press conference after the revelation, Cuomo denied the allegations.
According to The New York Times, a vote to strip the Governor of emergency powers could come as early as next week. The news comes after it was reported that the Department of Justice and the FBI have launched a formal investigation into Cuomo's coronavirus task force with regard to its policies affecting nursing homes and long-term care facilities in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, New York Democrat lawmakers issued a statement calling for stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers.
"Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government. While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state – and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments – it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate."
In January, New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a report detailing the investigations her office conducted into the Governor’s nursing homes policies and actions during the pandemic. The report showed that the nursing home deaths in New York State were likely undercounted by up to 50 percent.
Lawmakers from both parties and the media had been asking for the figures since the beginning of the outbreak.
The investigation, ongoing since March, when Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his directive to send COVID patients back to nursing homes following hospitalizations, began due to allegations of "patient neglect and other concerning conduct," according to The Post-Journal.
Cuomo has consistently and repeatedly denied that his policies had any negative impact on nursing home deaths in the state. Last week, Melissa DeRosa, top aide to Cuomo apologized to New York Democratic lawmakers on a Zoom conference for withholding the state’s nursing-home coronavirus death totals. She told them that the administration's staff "froze," fearing the real numbers would "be used against us" by federal prosecutors, according to The New York Post.