A new report by the New York Times details the federal investigation into whether New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his aides “provided false data” to the US Justice Department about resident deaths at the state’s nursing homes. According to the report, FBI agents have interviewed New York Health Department officials and issued subpoenas to Governor Cuomo’s offices for “documents related to the disclosure of data last year.” The investigation remains ongoing.
Federal investigators have questioned officials about data submitted to the federal government regarding Covid-19 case rates and death rates in New York nursing homes, conducting interviews in person and over the phone, per the Times report. The investigation may “add to the legal pressure faced by Mr. Cuomo, as well as by his most senior aides,” it states.
The Times reports that the investigation is being overseen by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. A lawyer representing the governor’s office told the Times that its nursing home data submission to the federal government in August 2020 “was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false.”
As the Times describes, the Cuomo administration “initially publicized only the number of residents who died of Covid-19 inside nursing homes,” though thousands of additional nursing home residents died when they were transferred from their nursing homes to hospitals, numbers that were not included in state data until January 2021. Senior officials in the state government have responded to questions about these disclosures by stating they did not initially reveal the hospital death data “because the information was incomplete and needed to be vetted,” according to the Times.
One of Governor Cuomo’s senior aides, Melissa DeRosa, told a group of legislators that “she and others ‘froze’ because of the federal request for data” in August 2020, although a Times investigation found that she “and other aides removed such data from a report prepared by the Health Department” in June 2020. The Times describes a chart from an “early draft” of that report which reflected 9,200 total nursing home deaths by June 2020, “or 50 percent higher than what Mr. Cuomo’s administration had publicly acknowledged.” Current data indicates a total of more than 15,000 nursing home residents who died of causes related to Covid-19.
More information about the federal inquiry into New York’s handling of nursing home Covid-19 deaths is available via the New York Times.
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