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Cuomo: N.Y. Should Have Prioritized Releasing Nursing Home Data Sooner

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Darren McGee
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state should have prioritized releasing data on how many nursing home residents in New York died from COVID-19.

Last week, a leaked discussion between a top Cuomo aide and several top Democratic lawmakers showed that his administration delayed releasing state data because of a Trump Justice Department inquiry.

He deflected blame on Monday by suggesting top legislative staff were told about the delay.

"The New York state DOH has always fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals,” Cuomo said. "They have always been fully reported."

Cuomo said his health department has complied with the federal probe, but he acknowledges the damage of keeping the data hidden.

“The void we created by not providing information was filled with skepticism and cynicism and conspiracy theories which furthered the confusion," he said.

Nearly 15,000 nursing home deaths have been reported since an investigation released by State Attorney General Letitia James last month. The investigation found the state health department undercounted the number of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes by up to 50%.

Cuomo argued that data was included in the state’s count of hospital related deaths.

He continued to back his administration’s order to send 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients back into nursing homes last spring through a March 25 order. His health department blames the death count in nursing homes on asymptomatic nursing home staff who brought the virus into facilities.

Cuomo wants to amend his executive budget proposal to include reforms to policing nursing homes, saying the state has been too soft.

Republicans and several Democratic lawmakers have called for Cuomo’s resignation and for federal and state investigations into his administration's handling of pandemic-related nursing home policies.

They also may reconvene to strip Cuomo of his public health emergency powers.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.