Revealed: Cuomo team hid true number of nursing home deaths for longer than thought

What’s left to say? It’s impeachment time.

Well, maybe there are a few things left to say. “Amazing that 60 Minutes missed this one,” sniffed Charles Cooke about the Times’s scoop today.

According to the story, New York officials began trying to figure out the true number of nursing-home deaths from COVID last April, in the first flush of New York’s ferocious outbreak. The effort continued into June, with Cuomo’s team monitoring it nervously. His policy on returning infected seniors to nursing homes in order to preserve hospital beds was already a potential political liability. “We are getting anxious over here on this report,” said one of his top aides, Melissa DeRosa, in an email at the time to the health officials working on the numbers.

The next four months were apparently spent finding one excuse after another not to release the true data in a timely way. In one case Cuomo delayed the release by seeking “further analysis.” In another DeRosa ordered an audit of the figures because she didn’t trust it. The audit revealed that the original count was north of 9,000 deaths, just as the original health-department tally suggested and many more than the Cuomo administration had officially acknowledged — but the audited count wasn’t released. DeRosa later claimed that was because the administration “froze” after the Trump DOJ began sniffing around, a convenient attempt to blame an unpopular Republican for Cuomo’s cover-up. But state legislators told the Times that the excuse given to them at the time was that the health department still wasn’t sure whether the audited figures were accurate.

The department’s initial report was itself rewritten several times by Cuomo’s own aides before it was published last July in order to deemphasize infections between residents as a main driver of deaths. Months later in November, when the department was finally ready to put out the accurate numbers, a letter from the state health commissioner to the state assembly with the data somehow ended up not being sent. It wasn’t until January, nine months after the nursing-home tally had begun, that the true death toll was finally revealed — and only then because the state AG had begun investigating the matter. If not for that, Team Cuomo might still be engaged in a cover-up.

The original numbers compiled last summer were stark:

It put the number of residents with Covid-19 killed in the pandemic at 9,739 through the end of May, far higher than what the administration was saying publicly at the time.

“Approximately 35 percent” of all deaths at that point “were nursing home residents,” the draft concluded.

But that version was never published. And the publicly released report instead claimed 21 percent of all deaths in New York were in nursing homes.

By not counting nursing-home residents who died in a hospital as “nursing-home deaths,” Cuomo was able to make the death toll in New York seem mild per capita compared to some other states, blunting the criticism that his nursing-home policy was directly responsible for a surge in deaths. “It’s truly remarkable,” wrote Cooke elsewhere today. “Whatever Governor DeSantis is baselessly accused of doing, Andrew Cuomo or someone else seems actually to have done.” There was in fact a dust-up on social media earlier this week in which some lefties accused DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott of cooking their books, as it simply couldn’t be that Florida and Texas are seeing low case counts and deaths after relaxing restrictions. But it is:

We’re left to wonder. How much of Team Cuomo’s stalling was aimed at not creating bad press for his book about the pandemic, a matter that was high enough of a priority for him that he diverted government staffers from some of their duties serving the public to work on it for him?
book? The numbers were going to come out eventually. Why not release them sooner rather than later and get it over with, unless he feared it might hurt book sales?

Or was it because it might complicate his moment of glory at the Democratic convention touting his glorious battle against COVID?

If I had to bet, I’d wager that this trash is still apt to be reelected. That’s how far New York has sunk into one-party malaise. I’ll leave you with a question various others have asked on social media since the Times story dropped an hour ago: Given what we now know, how is this guy still leading the weekly conference call of governors on the COVID response? He’s proved that he can’t be trusted to share accurate information on the state of the pandemic. He should be disqualified. Why is the White House sticking with him?

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