Cuomo aide apologizes to lawmakers for withholding COVID-19 death toll in New York nursing homes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senior aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized to state lawmakers this week for the governor's office withholding requested data showing the death toll in nursing homes from COVID-19, according to transcripts of the conversation published by local media.

Reuters February 13, 2021 00:10:22 IST
Cuomo aide apologizes to lawmakers for withholding COVID-19 death toll in New York nursing homes

Cuomo aide apologizes to lawmakers for withholding COVID19 death toll in New York nursing homes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senior aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized to state lawmakers this week for the governor's office withholding requested data showing the death toll in nursing homes from COVID-19, according to transcripts of the conversation published by local media.

The aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic lawmakers in a call on Wednesday that Cuomo's office feared the death toll information would be "used against us" by federal prosecutors, according to the New York Post, which first reported the call.

"And basically we froze," DeRosa said, the Post reported https://nypost.com/2021/02/11/cuomo-aide-admits-they-hid-nursing-home-data-from-feds. The comments came about two weeks after New York Attorney General Letitia James published a report saying the true death toll of nursing home residents between March and August last year may be twice as high as the 6,400 officially reported.

Angered by what they perceive as a cover-up, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they are reconsidering their decision to grant Cuomo emergency powers last year to contend with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a betrayal of the public trust," Andrew Gounardes, a Democratic state senator, wrote on Twitter. "There needs to be full accountability for what happened."

Cuomo rebuffed efforts by state lawmakers last summer to force greater disclosure over the number of nursing home residents who died after contracting COVID-19.

Nursing home residents who were taken to hospitals were not counted in the state's break-out of nursing home deaths, which lawmakers viewed as masking the true extent of the crisis.

Around the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice also began seeking data on deaths of nursing home residents. The department was then overseen by President Donald Trump, a Republican with whom Cuomo frequently sparred, with Cuomo faulting the president for not being transparent with the public over the worsening pandemic.

In a statement on Friday, DeRosa said her office decided the federal request must be the priority before turning to the request by state lawmakers.

"As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked," her statement said.

Cuomo's administration also unsuccessfully sought to withhold the data when it was requested through transparency laws by the Empire Center, a conservative think tank.

A judge ordered the disclosure of the numbers this month, and the state has released data showing that thousands more nursing home residents than was previously known died from COVID-19, even if their deaths occurred after being transferred to a hospital.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.