Andrew Cuomo‘s top aide has admitted that their administration ‘froze’ in August when asked for data detailing COVID-19 deaths among nursing home patients, and then hid the information amid fears that it would be used against them in an investigation by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice .
In a remarkable confession made during a conference call with New York state Democrats, obtained by The New York Post, Melissa DeRosa asked for understanding from their critics.
She told lawmakers: ‘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.’
Her shocking revelations came shortly before the Associated Press published new detail into how many patients recovering from COVID were sent back into nursing homes. They found more than 9,000 readmittances – a figure 40 per cent higher than official data.
In January, the AP reported that the death toll from COVID among nursing home patients was 15,000 – an increase almost 50 per cent higher than the official statistics.
Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic is under intense scrutiny.
Melissa DeRosa (left), secretary to Andrew Cuomo (right), admitted that they ‘froze’
Ambulance workers collect an elderly man from Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn, which registered an alarming number of COVID-19 deaths. Cuomo has been criticized for his policy
On March 25 he ordered nursing homes to readmit COVID-positive patients due to concerns about space in hospitals – despite fears of how the virus would spread among the vulnerable elderly.
He later reversed the ruling, on May 10, barring nursing homes from accepting COVID-19 patients without a negative test first.
State health officials contend that asymptomatic nursing home employees, not recovering COVID-19 patients, were the driving factor in nursing home outbreaks.
Critics insist that his policy – which saw 9,000 people readmitted to their care homes – cost thousands of lives.
Some states, including Connecticut, set up COVID 19-only nursing homes relatively early on.
DeRosa, 38, is seen as Cuomo’s right-hand
Cuomo has been repeatedly asked for more details, for months, but has dodged the questions.
Last month it emerged that 15,000 people in nursing homes had died of COVID-19 – a huge increase on the official figure of 8,500.
On February 3, a New York state Supreme Court judge, Justice Kimberly O’Connor, ruled that Cuomo has five business days to respond to a FOIL request to release data on COVID-19 in nursing homes.
The lawsuit was filed by Senator Jim Tedisco and the Empire Center for Public Policy, and O’Connor in her ruling was critical of the Department of Health for stalling on reporting nursing home data for several months.
In the call on Thursday, DeRosa admitted they deliberately hid the data, after the Trump administration began asking questions.
State Democrats asked for the data in August, ‘right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,’ she said.
‘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.’
On Thursday New York state’s health department reported an additional 10,099 new COVID-19 cases
DeRosa admitted in the Thursday call that, in the spotlight, the Cuomo government ‘froze’
Trump, also, she said, ‘directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.’
‘And basically, we froze.
‘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.
‘That played a very large role into this.’
DeRosa then asked for ‘a little bit of appreciation of the context’.
She then offered the Democrat lawmakers an apology for the ‘political position’ that Cuomo’s order put them in.
She told the officials: ‘We do apologize. 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.’
Relatives of nursing home COVID victims and critics of Cuomo were outraged at the news.
Janice Dean, the Fox News weathercaster who lost her mother and father-in-law in a New York nursing home, told Hannity on Thursday night: ‘If this guy was a Republican, he would probably be in jail right now.’
Dean earlier told Mark Steyn: ‘This is the biggest bombshell we have had so far.
‘We had a trickling in of the numbers. We knew the numbers were much bigger than the governor was admitting.
‘Over 15,000 residents died from getting COVID in their nursing homes … and now the biggest bombshell coming from the New York Post that his secretary, Melissa DeRosa admitted that they covered it all up.
‘We need to see these people on the stand, with a jury, with us, the people that lost our loved ones, in the audience to see them tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
‘Justice needs to be served.
‘We don’t have our loved ones here today, but by God, I am here to be a voice for all of them.”
Dean said she has never been politically vocal, but the issue is deeply ‘personal,’ to her and her family.
‘I have never been a political person in my entire life [but] it affected my family. I’m speaking on behalf of them. It is their 60th wedding anniversary today, Mark, and the angels won.’
She then tweeted: ‘They should all go to jail.’
Janice Dean, a Fox News weathercaster, described Thursday’s report as ‘the biggest bombshell we have had so far’
Cuomo’s pandemic: timeline of the NY governor
MARCH 1: Female nurse, 39, returning from Iran becomes the first in New York to test positive for COVID-19.
MARCH 2: Cuomo gives the first of 111 consecutive daily televised briefings for New Yorkers
MARCH 13: Donald Trump declares national emergency.
MARCH 14: An 82-year-old woman with emphysema is announced as the first patient to die from the virus.
MARCH 17: New York City mayor Bill de Blasio says city should follow San Francisco with a shelter-in-place order; Cuomo says it will be statewide: ‘As a matter of fact, I’m going so far that I don’t even think you can do a statewide policy.’
MARCH 19: California Governor Gavin Newsom issues first statewide lockdown order
MARCH 22: Cuomo signs statewide stay-at-home order.
MARCH 25: Cuomo orders that nursing homes accept convalescent COVID patients back into their facilities.
MAY 10: The nursing home ruling is reversed, to insist on a negative COVID test before return to a nursing home. By now, more than 9,000 people have returned to nursing homes.
AUGUST: Questions begin to be asked about the nursing home policy.
OCTOBER 13: Cuomo publishes American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
OCTOBER 21: Cuomo announced a policy of isolating identified ‘micro clusters’ of COVID cases.
NOVEMBER 20: Cuomo wins an Emmy ‘in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world’.
JANUARY 28: Attorney General Letitia James released a report finding that New York under-reported the number of deaths among nursing home patients by around 50 per cent, with 15,000 actually dying – not the 8,500 reported.
FEBRUARY 11: Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s secretary, admits that in August they ‘froze’ when asked for nursing home data, and dragged their heels on releasing it. The AP reports that more than 9,000 people were returned to nursing homes to recover from COVID in the period March 25-May 10, a figure 40 per cent higher than the official tally.
Steve Scalise, the Republican House whip, tweeted: ‘There it is. Cuomo’s aide just admitted to covering up nursing home data so federal prosecutors couldn’t find it. Time for federal investigations. Time for prosecutions. Time for JUSTICE.’
He added: ‘The more the truth comes out, the worse it gets for Cuomo.’
Matt Vespa, a senior editor at TownHall.com, called for an urgent investigation.
‘With Biden now president, Cuomo’s people admit what many have already suspected: they intentionally hid the real COVID death toll from nursing homes in a massive cover-up that warrants a federal investigation,’ he said.
‘Biden DOJ should look into this…if they care about law and order.’
And Buck Sexton, a conservative commentator and podcast host, said: ‘Imagine for a moment that a Republican governor- by executive order- sent 9,000 seniors with covid back into nursing homes, causing massive casualties
‘But Cuomo is part of the lib establishment, so they allowed him to cover this up as long as they could.’
— to www.dailymail.co.uk