Cuomo’s comments came following reports that NY state officials deliberately concealed the real death numbers in nursing homes from the federal government.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has dismissed allegations of him covering up COVID-19 state-run nursing home deaths, arguing that the state’s Department of Health reported the numbers in full, but the situation has been “politicized”.
Cuomo stated that the New York State DOH “has always fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals,” but admitted however that his administration “should have provided more information faster,” referring to the federal Department of Justice’s request last year for novel coronavirus mortality statistics.
“I take responsibility for that,” the governor said during a press conference on Monday. “Total death counts were always accurate, nothing was hidden from anyone, but we did create the void. And that created pain. And I feel very badly about that.”
Cuomo has faced a serious backlash following his order for state nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients and those with similar symptoms. The governor defended his decision, saying that due to the risk of secondary infection, “seniors should not stay in hospitals longer than necessary.” He went on to say that another reason was that he was concerned about the NY healthcare system being overrun.
“COVID did not get into the nursing homes by people coming from hospitals. COVID got into the nursing homes by staff walking into the nursing home,” Cuomo said.
He acknowledged, however, that “we should have done a better job,” adding that it created “confusion and cynicism and pain for the families of the loved ones.”
Last week, his secretary, Melissa DeRosa, reportedly told NY Democrats that COVID-19 nursing home deaths were covered up by the local officials because they believed the DOJ might “use the data against us.” In addition to that, New York’s Attorney General’s Office reported in January that the state’s health department undercounted coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%.
At the height of the breakout of the pandemic in the first half of 2020, New York was one of the hardest-hit COVID-19 areas.
The state had about 18,000 people in hospital at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic and there were about 800 people dying a day from causes related to the virus. According to the latest data, there were 8,330 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the state and 136 fatalities, as of Sunday.