Reports: NY officials altered count of nursing home COVID-19 deaths
NEW YORK (AP) — Some New York lawmakers are calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s impeachment after reports late Thursday that his top aides altered a state health department report to omit the true number of people killed by COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, citing documents and people with knowledge of the administration’s internal discussions, reported that aides including secretary to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, pushed state health officials to edit the July report so only residents who died inside long-term care facilities, and not those who became ill there and later died at a hospital, were counted.
It’s the latest blow for Cuomo, who’s been besieged by a one-two punch of scandals involving his handling of nursing home deaths and accusations that he made lewd comments and inappropriately touched two former aides and a woman that he met at a wedding he officiated.
Cuomo had apologised Wednesday for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but rejected calls for his resignation and said he would fully cooperate with the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations.
Federal investigators are scrutinising his administration’s handling of nursing home data.
In the wake of Thursday night’s report, some state lawmakers — including fellow Democrats like Assembly members Zohran Kwame Mamdani of Queens and Yuh-Line Niou of Manhattan — called for Cuomo’s impeachment.
“15,000 nursing home residents died. 15,000 of our loved ones died. And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach,” tweeted Queens Assembly member Ron Kim, who said Cuomo bullied him over the nursing home response.
The July nursing home report was released to rebut criticism of Cuomo over a March 25 directive that barred nursing homes from rejecting recovering coronavirus patients being discharged from hospitals.
Some nursing homes complained at the time that the policy could help spread the virus.
The report concluded the policy played no role in spreading infection.
The state’s analysis was based partly on what officials acknowledged at the time was an imprecise statistic.
The report said 6,432 people had died in the state’s nursing homes.
State officials acknowledged that the true number of deaths was higher because of the exclusion of patients who died in hospitals, but they declined at the time to give any estimate of that larger number of deaths, saying the numbers still needed to be verified.
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