Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined the growing number of state and federal legislators calling for a probe into how New York’s top officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, handled nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.
“Thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers lost their lives in nursing homes throughout the pandemic. 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,” the second-term lawmaker added.
New York state undercounted deaths with COVID-19 among nursing home residents, the state’s attorney general found. State officials disclosed that nearly 4,000 residents died after having been moved to hospitals, on top of the 8,740 who died inside of nursing homes.
Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo, told Democrat state legislators in a recent call that the administration withheld how many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 because they feared the numbers would “be used against us” by the federal government.
A growing number of Republicans and Democrats are looking for a response to the situation.
State Sen. Rob Ortt, a Republican, said that the Cuomo administration clearly obstructed justice and called for officials to “be investigated from top to bottom.”
Assemblymember Monica Wallace, a Democrat, is among those pushing for the state legislature to revoke Cuomo’s emergency powers. “By hiding information as it unfolded, we risked making things worse and put people’s lives in jeopardy. That’s unacceptable,” she said in a statement.
Cuomo has fiercely defended his administration’s response to COVID-19, including a March 2020 order that forced nursing home operators to accept residents back, or new resident admissions, even if they had tested positive for the disease.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Cuomo told reporters Friday that health officials did “a great job” during the pandemic as he vowed to “take on the lies and the unscrupulous actors.”
“We provided the Department of Justice with truthful information in our response. It is a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate. That is a lie,” he said.
“Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals. New York state legislators requested information, yes they did. We said we would pause the state legislature’s request because we gave DOJ precedence, true. We pause the state request and we told them that we paused the state request. They were told and they knew, and we gave DOJ precedence.”
The Department of Justice requested information from the Cuomo administration, along with several other governors whose states issued similar orders pertaining to nursing homes, in August 2020.
The DOJ later demanded more detailed data.
The DOJ has been probing what happened “for months,” a Cuomo adviser told news outlets this week.
“We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to,” he added.