New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked about Attorney General Letitia James' findings that nursing home deaths in New York were underreported by as much as 50 percent during the pandemic.
In response, Cuomo said "everyone did they best they could."
"When I say the the State Department of Health, as the report said, the State Department of Health followed federal guidance, so if you think there was a mistake then go talk to the federal government.
"It's not about pointing fingers or blame, it's that this became a political football, right? Look, whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it's people dying. People dying.
He laid out this hypothetical example: "I was in a hospital, I got transferred to a nursing home, and my father died. My father was in a nursing home got transferred to a hospital, my father died.
"People died. By the way, the same people are dying today. 96 percent of the people who die are older people with comorbidities, which happens to be the population that lives in nursing homes. It's continuing today," Cuomo said.
It was on Thursday that New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report showing that nursing home deaths in New York were undercounted by as much as 50 percent.
The New York State Department of Health's figures on deaths in nursing homes from COVID showed far less death than James' latest findings. Cuomo and the Dept. of Health reported more than 8,500, and Cuomo has consistently and repeatedly denied that his policies had any negative impact on nursing home deaths in the state.
"While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis," James said, "this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents. Nursing homes residents and workers deserve to live and work in safe environments, and I will continue to work hard to safeguard this basic right during this precarious time."
The basics of the AG's report are: many more nursing home residents died from COVID than the official state numbers show; many homes didn't follow the guidance to keep contagion at bay; the residents of homes that were not well-staffed suffered more; a lack of personal protective equipment among staff and residents was a factor in increased contagion; a lack of testing in these facilities meant the extent of the contagion was unknown for far too long.