Monday October 18th, 2021 2:58AM

Lauded early in pandemic, Cuomo now panned on nursing homes

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote a book on managing the COVID-19 crisis. Now he faces intensifying accusations that he covered up the true death toll of the pandemic on nursing home residents, attacks that challenge his reputation for straight-shooting competency and could cloud his political future.

State lawmakers called for investigations, stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers and even his resignation after new details emerged this week about why certain nursing home data was kept under wraps for months, despite requests from lawmakers and others.

Top aide Melissa DeRosa told lawmakers the data was delayed because officials worried that the information was “going to be used against us” by the Trump administration's Department of Justice.

The new salvos from Republicans and Cuomo's fellow Democrats mark a stark turnaround from early days of the pandemic, when Cuomo's daily briefings helped cement a national reputation for leadership. The briefings, in which he promised to deliver “just the facts,” won him an International Emmy and helped lead to his book, “American Crisis.”

“He stepped in it, more than a little bit. It would be bad enough if this had come out and he had not been publicly sort of celebrating, and been celebrated, for his handling of the pandemic," said Jeanne Zaino, political science professor at Iona College. "But putting that aside, it doesn’t get more serious than this. You’re talking about the deaths of 15,000 people.”

The Cuomo administration for months dramatically underreported the statewide number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents. It is now nearly 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.

The new toll amounts to about one-seventh of the roughly 90,000 people living in nursing homes as of 2019 in New York, which has among the most care home residents in the nation.

Cuomo has pointed to a small but growing body of research suggesting unchecked community spread is the biggest factor in nursing home outbreaks, and he has said inadequate federal government help with travel restrictions, testing and protective gear left New York City and its suburbs particularly vulnerable.

He has dismissed criticism as political and noted that the thousands of nursing home residents' deaths in hospitals were always counted in the state's overall tally.

“Died in a hospital, died in a nursing home — they died," he said Jan. 29.

The uproar might not have the same impact on the third-term Democrat as it would if he were facing reelection for the first time this year, Zaino said. But it could make him less likely to be tapped for a post in the Biden administration.

And Cuomo — who says he will run again in 2022 — is now facing criticism that is increasingly coming from members of his own party.

“The governor’s lack of transparency and stonewalling regarding his administration’s nursing home actions is unacceptable," said state Sen. John Mannion, one of 14 Democratic state senators who said Friday that Cuomo’s expanded emergency powers should be repealed as soon as possible.

The higher death tolls were only divulged hours after a report late last month from Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James examining the administration's failure to include nursing home residents who died at hospitals. The updated numbers backed up the findings of an Associated Press investigation last year that concluded the state could have been understating deaths by thousands.

Nursing home residents' advocates and relatives have questioned whether the virus's spread in nursing homes was fueled by a March 25 state directive that barred the facilities from refusing people just because they had COVID-19. The directive was intended to free up space in rapidly filling hospitals.

Debra Diehl, 62, who lost her 85-year-old father, Reeves Hupman, to presumptive COVID-19 in May at a nursing home outside Albany, wants to know why Cuomo and the state didn't do more to separate residents who may have had the virus, perhaps by putting them in field hospitals.

“They had people coming up, sent from downstate hospitals up here,” Diehl said. “It just seemed like Typhoid Marys, just spreading it further. He did not know what he was doing, or he did not care.”

In reply to a Freedom of Information request from the AP in May, the state Health Department released records this week showing that more than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York were released from hospitals into nursing homes from March 25 to May 10, when Cuomo undid the directive.

The state issued a report insisting the patients didn't drive the virus's transmission in nursing homes, though it didn't rule out whether the directive played any role.

Cuomo has said the facilities had a responsibility to accept only patients they could care for. State health inspectors have uncovered infection control violations at dozens of nursing homes amid the pandemic and levied at least $1 million in fines.

Still, DeRosa has estimated that New York nursing home residents represent 40% of the lives lost this winter. New York has reported over 10,000 deaths since Dec. 1.

The disclosure of DeRosa's comments this week in a conference call with Democratic lawmakers essentially brought months of complaints to a boiling point.

She said the state “froze” in responding to lawmakers August request for the number of nursing home residents who died in hospitals because officials were also responding to a Justice Department inquiry and fretted that “what we start saying was going to be used against us, and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”

DeRosa issued a statement Friday saying that the state was slow to respond to the lawmakers because it was dealing with the Justice Department, and then with the virus’s resurgence in autumn and with vaccinations. The governor's office declined to comment further.

“It gave the impression of them trying to whitewash the information," said Sen. Rachel May, one of the 14 Democrats calling for rescinding Cuomo's emergency powers.

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said Cuomo “needs to demand the immediate resignation of anyone involved in this cover-up, and if he was aware, he must be removed from office."

The criticism could resonate because it fits with a common complaint that for all of his ability, Cuomo’s controlling nature can undercut his effectiveness.

Cuomo has dismissed that idea, writing in his book: “You show me a person who is not controlling, and I’ll show you a person who is probably not highly successful.”

To Fordham University political scientist Christina Greer, the recent disclosures “call into question: Can we trust news coming out of the governor’s office? Not just out of nursing homes, but can we trust it about schools, can we trust it about prisons, can we trust it about other communities?

”It’s definitely cast a bad shadow on the administration," she said.


Peltz reported from New York.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Senior Health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fight over witnesses could delay Trump trial conclusion
The U.S. Senate has voted to consider hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump
11:19AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Lauded early in pandemic, Cuomo now panned on nursing homes
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces intensifying accusations that he covered up the true death toll of COVID-19 on nursing home residents
11:05AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Imprisoned ex-FBI agent who worked with Bulger seeks release
The imprisoned former FBI agent serving a 40-year prison sentence for alerting former Boston mobster Whitey Bulger that he could implicated in a mob murder wants to be released from prison on medical grounds
10:44AM ( 40 minutes ago )
U.S. News
AP sources: GOP leader McConnell will vote to acquit Trump
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told colleagues he'll vote to acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment trial
11:14AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Draghi takes helm in Italy, focused on pandemic recovery aid
The man largely credited with saving the euro currency has formally taken the helm as Italy's new premier
10:59AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: Senators to consider witnesses in Trump trial
Senators have voted to consider witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump
10:39AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Which GOP senators are seen as possible votes against Trump?
Despite long odds, Democrats say they're holding out hope that Donald Trump will be convicted when the Senate votes on whether he incited the riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6
10:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
Myanmar protests in 2nd week, with neither side backing down
Mass street demonstrations in Myanmar have entered their second week, with neither protesters nor the military government they seek to unseat showing any signs of backing down from confrontations
10:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP source: GOP leader McConnell will vote to acquit Trump
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will vote to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s impeachment trial
9:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Trump trial opens as senators race toward vote
The Senate is gaveling open as the court of impeachment is expecting to wrap up Donald Trump’s trial over the Capitol siege
10:11AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: China holiday travel down amid restrictions
Railway journeys in China during the usually busy Lunar New Year holiday travel rush are down by almost 70% amid calls for people to stay where they are to avoid a new outbreak of the coronavirus
8:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Senators await closing arguments in Trump trial
A little over a month ago, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was voting to affirm Joe Biden’s election as the 46th president
8:52AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump lawyers argue impeachment based on 'hatred,' not facts
Lawyers for Donald Trump are arguing that his impeachment trial is no more than a campaign of “hatred” against the former president
9:11PM ( 14 hours ago )
The Latest: Tuberville stands by account of Trump phone call
Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama is standing by his account that he told then-President Donald Trump that Vice President Mike Pence was being evacuated from the Senate during the Capitol riot
8:04PM ( 15 hours ago )
Census: No redistricting data until end of September
The U.S. Census Bureau says it won’t be delivering data used for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts until the end of September
7:39PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Fire destroys part of Paul Newman's camp for ill children
A fire on Friday evening destroyed a large section of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children in Connecticut
11:54PM ( 11 hours ago )
Pentagon approves 20 more COVID-19 vaccination teams
The Pentagon has approved the deployment of 20 more military vaccination teams that will be prepared to go out to communities around the country
7:07PM ( 16 hours ago )
Biden administration to undo Medicaid work requirements
The Biden administration is moving to roll back Medicaid work requirements in its latest effort to undo a controversial Trump-era policy
6:49PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Health
Court rules against Apaches in bid to halt proposed mine
A federal judge has rejected a request from a group of Apaches to keep the U.S. Forest Service from transferring a parcel of land to a copper mining company
12:59AM ( 10 hours ago )
Jaguars, accused racist strength coach Chris Doyle part ways
The Jacksonville Jaguars and embattled strength coach Chris Doyle parted ways Friday night, a few hours after a diversity group blasted the team and called the hiring “simply unacceptable.”
11:26PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business
California uses ZIP codes, outreach to boost vaccine equity
Counties in California and other places in the U.S. are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic
4:16PM ( 3 days ago )
Vatican seeks elder care rethink after COVID-19 'massacre'
The Vatican is calling for a new paradigm of care for the elderly after what it calls the “massacre” wrought by the coronavirus pandemic
9:30AM ( 4 days ago )
The Latest: China's northeast outbreaks appear under control
China appears to have stamped out its latest coronavirus outbreaks centered on the northeast, reporting no new cases of local infection in its latest daily report
10:33PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
Draghi forms new govt blending experts, political operatives
Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has accepted the Italian president’s bid to form a new government, announcing a Cabinet of experts mixed with political operatives, at once seeking to assure financial markets and tame a potentially unruly coalition
3:25PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: CDC offers guidance for in-person schooling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is emphasizing mask wearing and social distancing when reopening U.S. schools
2:47PM ( 20 hours ago )
Draghi says he has enough support to form Italy's new govt
Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has told Italy’s president that he has secured enough political support to form a new government
1:49PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: Australia's 2nd largest city to begin lockdown
Australia’s second-largest city will begin its third lockdown due to a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster centered on hotel quarantine
11:38PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Australia on track for vaccine by end of March
Australia's health minister says the country is on track to manufacture and administer its own version of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March
8:23PM ( 1 day ago )
'Overwhelm the problem': Inside Biden’s war on COVID-19
President Joe Biden’s team is styling itself on war footing as it attacks the coronavirus pandemic
7:19PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Health Care
Fight over witnesses could delay Trump trial conclusion
The U.S. Senate has voted to consider hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump
11:19AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Imprisoned ex-FBI agent who worked with Bulger seeks release
The imprisoned former FBI agent serving a 40-year prison sentence for alerting former Boston mobster Whitey Bulger that he could implicated in a mob murder wants to be released from prison on medical grounds
10:44AM ( 40 minutes ago )
ICE nearly released sex abuse convicts despite Biden memo
Texas prison officials say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was prepared to release three men convicted of sex offenses against children in an apparent misapplication by authorities of enforcement directives from President Joe Biden’s administration
10:32AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Senate poised to vote on holding Trump accountable for riot
The Senate is holding a rare Saturday session for closing arguments in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, and then senators will vote on whether Trump will be held accountable for inciting the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6
10:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Virus-muffled Mardi Gras hits New Orleans' party-loving soul
New Orleans' annual pre-Lenten Mardi Gras celebration is muted this year because of the coronavirus pandemic
10:16AM ( 1 hour ago )