The Times Union first reported on Wednesday that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn are investigating how the Cuomo administration handled nursing homes.
According to the paper, the investigation is “apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force.”
Additionally, the paper noted that there have so far been no allegations of wrongdoing.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said a statement to the Times Union, “As we publicly said, DOJ (Department of Justice) has been looking into this for months.”
“We have been cooperating with them, and we will continue to,” he added.
In the early days of the pandemic, the Cuomo administration issued a directive that ordered nursing homes and long-term care facilities to accept residents who were discharged from hospitals even if they were testing positive for the coronavirus.
That order, which was seen as being responsible for a high number of deaths, was reversed less than two months later. Cuomo also said the policy was based on federal guidance.
However, Cuomo has come under fire after New York State Attorney Letitia James (D) released a report that found his administration had unreported the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by up to 50%.
Additionally, Cuomo is facing a new firestorm after his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic lawmakers that state officials intentionally withheld data on nursing home deaths to avoid a federal investigation.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the governor told The New York Post that, “We explained that the Trump administration was in the midst of a politically motivated effort to blame democratic states for COVID deaths and that we were cooperating with Federal document productions and that was the priority, and now that it is over we can address the state legislature.”
Additionally, DeRosa tried to clarify that, “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 Times Union notes that it is not known if the FBI’s investigation is related to the requests for information on the Cuomo administration’s nursing home policies made by the Justice Department over the summer.
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