Advisers to Andrew Cuomo reportedly ordered health officials to withhold data about nursing home deaths linked to Covid-19. The revelation comes as the scandal-plagued New York governor resists calls for his resignation.
The New York State Health Department made drastic changes to a July report which examined how the virus spread through the state’s nursing homes, after an intervention from the governor’s aides, according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Citing documents and officials familiar with the matter, the outlets claim that the preliminary report found that more than 9,000 nursing home residents had succumbed to the disease. At the urging of Cuomo’s aides, the data was amended to exclude residents who were hospitalized before their death, reducing the figure to 6,432, the Wall Street Journal reported.
One of the charts included in the draft report put the death toll approximately 50 percent higher than the figure being shared to the public by the Cuomo administration, the Times said.
The governor’s office responded to media inquiries about the omission by claiming that the data was revised because the Department of Health could not confirm that out-of-facility data had been “adequately verified.”
The department’s review into care home deaths was launched following an outcry over Cuomo’s March 25 directive, which prohibited nursing homes from refusing people who tested positive for coronavirus. The policy was billed as a way to free up space in hospitals, but critics say it accelerated the spread of the virus among those who were most vulnerable.
The complete data concerning the deaths was reportedly kept from the public for eight months. Cuomo insisted last month that fatalities at nursing homes have always been “fully, publicly and accurately reported.”
Cuomo has been repeatedly accused of not being upfront about his nursing home directive, which was later rescinded. In mid-February, a senior aide to the governor reportedly claimed that the administration concealed the number of Covid-19 related deaths at nursing homes in an attempt to thwart political attacks by then-president Donald Trump.
The latest details about the purported coverup come as Cuomo battles a string of sexual harassment allegations. The governor said that he regretted that he acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable after three women came forward with allegations. However, Cuomo has dismissed calls for his resignation.
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