According to the New York Post, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide — reportedly “privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19.”
The New York Post reports that DeRosa told state Democratic leaders during a video conference call that “‘we froze’ out of fear the true numbers would ‘be used against us.’” During the call, DeRosa reportedly explained that the Cuomo administration’s decision to rebuff a “legislative request” for the COVID-19 death count in August was in large part motivated by the thought that “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football.”
The report continues to quote DeRosa, who allegedly said, “He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes. He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
The report adds:
In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”
“And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call.
“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.”
DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”
Later, DeRosa reportedly apologized to her fellow Democrats for the “political position” they put them in.
“So we do apologize,” she said, per the Post. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”
In August 2020, the United States Department of Justice “opened a preliminary inquiry into the coronavirus nursing home policies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan,” questioning if those policies “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”
Specifically, the Justice Department focused on the policies of Gov. Cuomo and his Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, whose March 25 order stated that “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
On January 28, The Daily Wire reported that New York’s death toll from coronavirus-related nursing home deaths “may be much higher than what was reported by the state,” after a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James determined that “COVID-19 resident deaths associated with nursing homes in New York state appear to be undercounted by DOH by approximately 50 percent.”
After it was revealed that “nearly 13,000 people died in New York nursing homes due to COVID-19,” on February 5, “the Empire Center, a non-partisan think tank, reported that number accounts for 14% of New York’s ‘pre-pandemic nursing home population.’”