'A coordinated criminal conspiracy': NY Gov. Cuomo's aides pushed health officials to rewrite review into nursing homes to cover-up true death toll, new reports claim

 Andrew Cuomo's aides asked the state health department to change its definition of COVID nursing home deaths, it has been claimed, in a bid to reduce the total and lessen the criticism of the embattled New York governor.

On Thursday night The Wall Street Journal reported that Cuomo's team sought the changes in July.

The bombshell report comes hours after one of three women accusing Cuomo of sexual assault spoke out on television for the first time, adding to his horrendous week.  


Mike Lawler, a Republican assemblyman representing Rockland County, was among those calling on Thursday night for Cuomo to resign.

'It’s very clear the Cuomo admin understood their March 25th order had contributed to the death toll & they wanted to cover it up to avoid political fallout, plain and simple,' he tweeted. 

'They had the data & they hid it. This was a coordinated criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice.'

Cuomo, pictured with his aide Melissa DeRosa, is accused of undercounting the death toll

On Friday the state assembly will vote on whether to revoke Cuomo's emergency powers, two months early. The additional authority was approved in the early days of the pandemic last year, and designed to give Cuomo sweeping powers to rapidly change laws, in the midst of the public health emergency. Calls have been growing for some time for the powers to be removed.

On Thursday, sources told the paper that Cuomo's aides' efforts significantly reduced the tally of nursing home COVID deaths.

At least 15,000 nursing home residents are now known to have died of COVID-19 in New York

At least 15,000 nursing home residents are now known to have died of COVID-19 in New York


Cuomo was at the time facing questions over his March 25 order that nursing homes readmit convalescent COVID residents, to free up hospital beds.

Cuomo reversed his order on  May 10 and insisted on a negative COVID test before return to a nursing home - but by that point, more than 9,000 people had returned to nursing homes.

He insists that he was following federal guidelines. His health department say that the vast number of COVID outbreaks in nursing homes were traced back to members of staff, rather than returning residents. 

Critics say that Cuomo's rule caused a large number of unnecessary deaths. 

In July, his aides asked that the data focused only on residents who died inside long-term-care facilities, leaving out those who had died in hospitals after becoming sick in nursing homes. 

As a result, the report said 6,432 nursing-home residents had died - a significant undercount of the actual death toll. 

The initial version of the report said nearly 10,000 nursing-home residents had died in New York by July last year, one of the people told the Journal. 

The New York Times reported on Thursday that the report written by state health officials showed over 9,000 deaths from COVID-19 among nursing home residents by June and Cuomo's most senior aides did not want to make that number public.

They rewrote the report to take that figure out, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Times.

Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, agreed that the data showing deaths among residents, who died outside of their nursing homes, should not be included in the July report, the Journal said. 

The July intervention came just as Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, entitled American Leadership.

It is the earliest-known attempt to massage the official death toll data. 

A spokesman for the department, Gary Holmes, told The Journal: '[The Department of Health] was comfortable with the final report and believes fully in its conclusion that the primary driver that introduced Covid into the nursing homes was brought in by staff.'

Beth Garvey, a special counsel and senior adviser to Cuomo, told The Journal in a statement that the data was excluded from the July report because they were not sure it was accurate.

'The out-of-facility data was omitted after DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified,' she said. 

State officials now say more than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out a year ago - counting both those who died in long-term-care facilities and those who died later in hospitals. 

That figure is about 50 per cent higher than earlier official death tolls.

Following the July report, the Health Department resisted calls by state and federal lawmakers, media outlets and others to release the data for another eight months. 

The true toll only became apparent in January when Letitia James, the state attorney general, begun an inquiry. 

Cuomo has denied a coverup.

Cuomo and DeRosa are pictured having dinner in 2016, weeks after her wedding to another former aide to the governor, with an onlooker claiming Cuomo had his hand on her leg

Cuomo and DeRosa are pictured having dinner in 2016, weeks after her wedding to another former aide to the governor, with an onlooker claiming Cuomo had his hand on her leg

Cuomo released a book about his handling of the pandemic and he also won an Emmy for his daily TV briefings

Cuomo released a book about his handling of the pandemic and he also won an Emmy for his daily TV briefings

He clumsily attempted to explain that the total death count was always accurate, even if the deaths were recorded as hospital deaths rather than nursing home deaths. 'Who cares where they died,' he said - comments that enraged families of victims.

In February federal prosecutors began investigating a possible coverup of COVID deaths among nursing home residents.

On February 11 the health department updated their report to include out-of-facility deaths of nursing-home residents, saying its conclusions remained unchanged by the new data. 

Ron Kim, a Democrat politician who claimed that Cuomo rang him and threatened to 'destroy' him if he did not vociferously support him, called for the governor to be impeached.

Kim, a progressive representing Queens who has been among the most vocal critics of Cuomo's handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, believes his own uncle died from a presumed case of COVID in a nursing home last year.

'15,000 nursing home residents died,' he tweeted.

'15,000 of our loved ones died. And Cuomo hid the numbers. Impeach.' 


 Bill Hammond, Senior Fellow for Health Policy at The Empire Center, who tried and failed to obtain the data over the summer, tweeted: 'This whole thing played out in plain sight. 

'Anyone paying close attention knew the Cuomo administration was low-balling its nursing home death count, knew the July report was a travesty, knew Cuomo was B.S.-ing about NY's death toll being 46th, knew he was violating FOIL.'

'A coordinated criminal conspiracy': NY Gov. Cuomo's aides pushed health officials to rewrite review into nursing homes to cover-up true death toll, new reports claim 'A coordinated criminal conspiracy': NY Gov. Cuomo's aides pushed health officials to rewrite review into nursing homes to cover-up true death toll, new reports claim Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:01 Rating: 5

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