The US attorney in Brooklyn and FBI have recently conducted initial investigations into the way New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration handled data on COVID19-related nursing home deaths.
Democratic leaders of the New York State Senate are also moving toward stripping Cuomo’s emergency powers that granted him the ability to override orders and regulations. These powers were given to him on March 3rd, just days after the first case of Coronavirus was reported in New York.
Cuomo’s administration initially reported 8,500 deaths among New York nursing home residents amidst the height of the pandemic. However, just last month, state Attorney General Letitia Jones released a statement that suggested that the figure was grossly underrepresented. In fact, it was 15,000 deaths, a nearly 50 percent difference.
According to reports, nursing home residents who died whilst receiving treatment in the hospital were not included in the tally. However, this has led to speculation that Cuomo was fabricating the numbers in order to boost his climbing popularity and to garner support for his policies.
Cuomo vehemently denies those claims.
However, just last week Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa told reporters the state held off reporting the higher number count for fears then President Trump would use this information against the Governor.
In a brief conference on Monday, Cuomo acknowledged his team could have handled things differently but stopped short of providing an apology.
“Apologise?” he said, “Look, I have said repeatedly, we have made a mistake in creating the void… when we didn’t provide the information it allowed the press, people, cynics, politicians to fill the void.”
Instead, Cuomo blamed a “toxic political environment” for much of the criticism following his administration’s handling of the issue.
Cuomo did, however, promise to propose reforms involving nursing homes and hospitals in the upcoming state budget but gave no further details into the matter.
In a bizarre twist, it was reported on Wednesday that Cuomo had verbally threatened Democratic state assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens over the phone after Kim had criticised his handling of the events.
Kim told the New York Times, Cuomo had threatened to “destroy him” and effectively ruin his career.
“[He said that] he would destroy me and he would go out tomorrow and start telling how bad of a person I am and I would be finished and How he had bit his tongue about me for weeks.”
Later in a press conference, Cuomo’s adviser Rich Azzopardi denied these claims.
Cuomo was praised by many after stepping forward to deliver the harsh facts of the pandemic at a time when Trump was downplaying the unfolding situation. However, this latest development may mar his popularity status among New Yorkers and his decade long-held position as New York governor.