Thursday evening the New York Post reported Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for the way the state handled nursing home death data and allegedly said the state thought the numbers would be used against them by federal prosecutors.
Cuomo has also been criticized for a directive ordering nursing homes to admit or re-admit recovering coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals during the height of the pandemic.
More than 15,000 people connected to NY nursing homes have died in the state due to the pandemic, according to new data from the state Health Department.
"Basically, we froze", DeRosa told lawmakers on that call.
The Cuomo administration for months dramatically underreported the statewide number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents.
In an emailed statement, DeRosa told Insider that during the meeting, she was explaining that when the office received an inquiry from DOJ, they had to "temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first". We informed the houses of this at the time. I expect the Department and administration to promptly fulfill all future information requests from the legislature.
Last summer, the DOJ asked for information about nursing home deaths from NY and three other Democratic governors.
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The AP filed a Freedom of Information request, and the state said there was an additional new count of 2,729 "readmissions" 0f patients sent back to the nursing home they lived in before being admitted to the hospital on top of the previously disclosed 6,327 patients. "But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic".
The scandal broke earlier this week, after the governor's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic lawmakers the data was delayed because officials anxious that the information was "going to be used against us" by the Trump administration's Department of Justice.
The Cuomo administration released a partial transcript of the video conference on Friday, and many New York Democrats offered prompt condemnation of Cuomo's actions. Trump tweeted about Cuomo and nursing homes on 9/3.
A growing number of Democrats and Republicans have called for Cuomo's emergency pandemic powers to be rescinded in recent weeks, including Mayor de Blasio. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens). "We need to utilize our leverage to hold (Cuomo) accountable and fight for justice for these families".
Heastie, meanwhile, appeared to confirm DeRosa's claim that Legislative leaders were made aware that the delay in responding to state lawmakers was due to the federal probe.