New York State Sen. Rachel May (D) is calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to apologize for withholding information about the number of deaths in nursing homes due to COVID-19.
Cuomo has acknowledged that state officials did withhold data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths and that things “should have been done differently.”
However, he stopped short of apologizing for the decision to hold back the data.
In a statement on Tuesday, May wrote, “The people of New York deserve a full and sincere apology from the Governor over the mishandling of this information.”
“I do not believe that his statements yesterday amounted to that. Further, the legislature has been working hard to address the serious underlying failures in our nursing home and long-term care institutions, including bills to address safe staffing levels, family visitation, and ombudsman program reforms,” she continued.
Read the statement below:
From NY Senator @RachelMayNY on @NYGovCuomo:
"The people of New York deserve a full and sincere apology from the Governor. I do not believe that his statements yesterday amounted to that."@CNYCentral pic.twitter.com/JTC7oRmAPh
— Mary Kielar (@marykielarCNY) February 16, 2021
The New York Post reported last week that Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa told state Democratic lawmakers that officials intentionally withheld data after the Department of Justice asked for information on the number of deaths in nursing homes from COVID-19.
“Basically, we froze,” she said, adding, “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.”
However, DeRosa later attempted to clarify her statement as she claimed, “We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout.”
“As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic,” she added.
The revelation that state officials withheld information on nursing come deaths comes weeks after the state’s attorney general released a report that found the Cuomo administration had undercounted the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by up to 50%.
During a press conference on Monday, Cuomo addressed the controversy as he said, “The last thing I wanted to do was aggravate a terrible situation.”
“There were people’s requests, press requests that were not answered in a timely manner,” he added.
While the number of COVID-19 deaths was included in the state’s death totals, it was not originally noted that they occurred in nursing homes.
Despite the Cuomo administration’s defense, Democratic lawmakers have accused state officials of a “betrayal of the public trust” and have called for “full accountability for what happened.”
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