New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was defensive of his state’s handling of nursing home patients during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, saying he would “aggressively” take on “lies” as a growing number of officials call for an investigation.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has come under fire from members of his own party in recent weeks over how his administration in March chose to require nursing homes to accept patients recovering from COVID-19. On Friday, Cuomo again stated it was the best option at the time to help free up desperately needed beds at the state’s hospitals, adding that the move did not cause additional deaths.
Cuomo said Friday he felt he needed to address the criticism more forcefully because “lies” about his handling of the pandemic were angering people whose loved ones had died.
“I’m not going to let you hurt New Yorkers by lying about what happened surrounding the death of a loved one,” Cuomo said during a news conference in Albany, the state capital. “So, I’m going to take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors, especially when they cause pain and damage to New York.”
In the conference, Cuomo praised his health committee “for a great job” done during the pandemic.
“I’m sorry you have to do it in a lousy political environment. But that’s where we are,” he said. “Sorry that you had to deal with COVID, sorry that you had to deal with a pandemic. I’m sorry that you had to miss your family working seven days a week and I’m sorry then you have to be abused in the partisan politics of the day.”
Cuomo has come under increased pressure in recent days after a New York Post report found that one of his top aides, Melissa DeRosa, told lawmakers in a private call that the administration withheld CCP virus data regarding nursing home deaths because the state was being investigated by the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump last year.
In January, Attorney General Letitia James released a report accusing the state government of deliberately undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
The report triggered a cavalcade of calls for an investigation from Republicans and also Democrats, including socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement on Friday. “Their loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership, and the Secretary to the Governor’s remarks warrant a full investigation.”
Separately, Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, also a Democrat, accused Cuomo of threatening to “destroy” him if he didn’t place a more positive spin on DeRosa’s statement.
Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi told the New York Daily News that Kim fabricated details about his conversation with the governor.
“At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup,’” he said, according to the paper. “That’s beyond the pale and is, unfortunately, part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.”