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Cuomo team talked lowballing COVID-19 nursing home deaths

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We don’t wish to say we instructed you so, however …

After disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent greater than a yr blaming everybody however himself for the nursing home controversy – together with The Post — the state Assembly’s damning impeachment probe revealed each Cuomo and his high aides hid nursing home information from the general public whereas negotiating his $5.1 million e-book deal.

According to a report launched Monday, Cuomo was conscious as early as March 2020 that nursing home deaths have been being undercounted, assigning a particular Department of Health team to reevaluate the figures.

In addition, the report reveals Cuomo was instantly concerned in modifying and reviewing the DOH’s supposedly exculpatory July 2020 report on the COVID-19 depend in nursing houses with a view to “strengthen” his protection of the infamous March 25 directive that required nursing houses to readmit residents who examined constructive for the coronavirus. 

Family members of seniors who died in nursing homes of COVID-19 hold a rally and demand Governor Cuomo's resignation or impeachment, March 25, 2021
Family members of seniors who died in nursing houses of COVID-19 maintain a rally and demand Andrew Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment, March 25, 2021.
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis through Getty Images

The notorious COVID-19 readmission coverage was adopted March 25 and detailed in a Health Department directive that reads, “No resident shall be denied readmission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”

Notably, the July 6 report claiming the coverage was not chargeable for rising COVID-19 deaths amongst medically weak sufferers was launched the identical day Cuomo and an Executive Chamber official met with reps from Penguin Random House. Four days later, the $5.1 million e-book deal for what grew to become the then-gov’s pandemic memoir “American Crisis” was finalized.  

The deal that was sealed in July 2020 started to take form almost 4 months earlier, as COVID-19 unfold throughout the tri-state space. The Assembly report states that Cuomo started participating with Penguin Random House staff on March 19 — simply three weeks after New York recognized its first COVID-19 case, and in the future earlier than Cuomo introduced a shutdown of so-called “non-essential” companies.

People who've lost loved ones due to Covid-19 while they were in New York nursing homes attend a protest and vigil on March 25, 2021 in New York City.
People who’ve misplaced family members as a consequence of COVID-19 whereas they have been in New York nursing houses attend a protest and vigil on March 25, 2021 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The March 20 announcement adopted days of the then-governor belittling and scoffing at Mayor Bill de Blasio when Hizzoner referred to as for shutting down colleges and non-essential companies.

In April and May 2020, after the Health Department had been publishing fatality information for “several weeks,” investigators discovered that Cuomo’s Executive Chamber staffers have been conscious that “certain fatalities in nursing home facilities due to COVID-19 were not included in the published data.”

The lowballing was the subject of “multiple discussions” amongst Cuomo’s high staffers and members of the governor’s COVID-19 Task Force. Those high-level authorities staff exhibited a “reluctance to admit error” when their number-fudging was found, lawmakers say.

The Assembly report reveals the governor’s aides and activity drive members intentionally opted to publicize the smaller determine of 6,000 deaths — which included solely fatalities in care amenities — as an alternative of the bigger variety of 10,000, which represented all COVID-19 deaths amongst nursing home residents.

Witnesses instructed investigators that the identical Executive Chamber official who was the “key point person” for Cuomo’s e-book deal additionally made the decision that solely in-facility deaths could be included within the well being division report.  

Sources recognized that “key point person” as Melissa DeRosa, a former high Cuomo aide who the report discovered “sent and received at least 1,000 emails” concerning the e-book between July and December 2020. 

People who've lost loved ones due to Covid-19 while they were in New York nursing homes attend a protest and vigil on March 25, 2021 in New York City.
The lowballing was the subject of “multiple discussions” amongst Andrew Cuomo’s high staffers and members of the governor’s COVID-19 Task Force.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While Cuomo claimed to be working 24/7 on managing New York State’s COVID-19 pandemic response, he and his staff have been the truth is spending time and assets to earn a revenue for himself by authoring the memoir, which the Assembly investigators decided “detracted from their state duties during the intense period.”

Meanwhile, an unnamed “senior DOH” official — who sources recognized to the Post as state well being Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker — tried to launch the true variety of nursing home resident deaths to the state Legislature in August 2020 and even ready a letter with the determine in it. But that letter was not allowed to be launched by the Executive Chamber.

Also in August 2020, an unnamed “senior Executive Chamber official” tried to coerce Zucker into testifying that the Chamber was not concerned within the controversial March 25 directive, however the DOH boss refused to take action.

“The evidence obtained in our investigation indicates that the former Governor and his senior staff were not fully transparent with the public regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents,” the Assembly probe concludes.

Cuomo has blamed “politics” for the scandals, regardless of DeRosa’s acknowledgement that the administration “froze” and refused requests from the US Department of Justice to make the nursing home information public as a result of they feared retribution from then-President Donald Trump, The Post solely reported in February.

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo has blamed “politics” for his scandals.
Mark Lennihan/AP Photo/Bloomberg through Getty Images

Cuomo himself blamed The Post for the backlash he confronted, writing in “American Crisis”: “On April 25, conservative columnist Michael Goodwin published a piece in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post aimed at New York with the headline, ‘State lacked common sense in nursing homes’ coronavirus approach” … It was an orchestrated technique and a Fox News drumbeat.”

But unbiased experiences, together with these authored by the Empire Center for Public Policy, have discovered the March order did the truth is contribute to a rise in nursing home facility deaths. A January report by state Attorney General Letitia James discovered that the nursing-home demise toll from COVID-19 might have been greater than 50 p.c greater than state officers had claimed.

Since March 2020, greater than 15,000 nursing home residents have been confirmed or presumed to have died from COVID-19 in amenities or hospital.

Cuomo and his former aides are being investigated by the FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office in reference to each the nursing home scandal and the e-book deal.

The probe’s government abstract notes that “several law enforcement agencies” are enterprise investigations of Cuomo “that overlap with the Committee’s mandate.” The Assembly Judiciary Committee, which launched the report, promised that it’s “cooperating with law enforcement with respect to these issues.”

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