Top Florida Democrat On Gov. Cuomo’s ‘Cover Up’: ‘We Would Never Have Gotten Away With That’
Director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to media during press conference at the Broward County mobile testing at CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines on Thursday, March 19, 2020. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)
David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

A top Florida Democrat who led the state’s pandemic response is warning his party against believing conspiracies about Florida’s handling of COVID-19.

Jared Moskowitz announced on Monday that he is retiring as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which he has led since Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed Moskowitz to the post in January 2019. In his outgoing remarks, Moskowitz defended Florida’s pandemic response while contrasting it with New York’s, which has been routinely praised in the media and by awards commissions.

“You may see a conspiracy theory and you want it to be true and you believe it to be true and you forward it to try to make it be true. But that doesn’t make it true,” Moskowitz told Politico. “We’ve seen this, quite frankly, within the last four years with the previous administration.”

“But Democrats should not be so naive to think that they don’t accidentally participate in things like that — for instance when they forward things around that falsely claim Florida has more deaths than New York when it comes to coronavirus. That is just not supported by the data,” Moskowitz continued.

“And in fact, for all the stuff about how Florida was not being transparent, it’s not Florida that’s in the national news. It’s New York, that’s in the national news, and it was New York that had a cover up for the last six months, and hid 50% of the nursing home deaths. We would never have gotten away with that for 15 days in Florida, let alone six months,” he pointed out.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is facing significant backlash from Republican and Democratic lawmakers in his state after one of his top aides admitted that his administration hid the true impact of COVID-19 on the state’s nursing homes to avoid a federal investigation. Cuomo later asserted that he had been transparent about the nursing home data, claiming in a Monday press conference that “all the deaths in the nursing homes and in the hospitals were always fully publicly and accurately reported.”

“The numbers were the numbers, always,” Cuomo said. “People did request information beyond the place of death, not just, where they, how many in a nursing home, not just how many in a hospital. They did request different categorizations beyond those counts, how many people died, who were in a nursing home, but then went to a hospital? How many people died, who were in a hospital, but then went back to a nursing home? How do you count presumed COVID deaths? Everyone was busy. Everybody was here every day. We’re in the midst of managing a pandemic. There was a delay in providing the press and the public all that additional information. There was a delay.”

In a video conference call last week, Cuomo top aide Melissa DeRosa told Democratic lawmakers that the governor had withheld data from them out of fear of sparking a federal investigation.

“And basically, we froze,” she said. “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.”

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