Cuomo DENIES his aides altered nursing home death data: NY State lawmakers vote to STRIP the governor of his emergency powers on the same day three staffers quit amid sexual harassment storm

 Andrew Cuomo has denied his aides altered the data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths on the same day New York State lawmakers voted to strip the governor of his emergency powers.

The embattled governor's Special Counsel Beth Garvey released a statement Friday hitting back at a bombshell report that Cuomo's office asked the state health department to change its definition of COVID-19 nursing home deaths back in July in order to mask the true extent of the crisis.

Garvey insisted none of the state's COVID Taskforce members 'changed any of the fatality numbers or 'altered' the fatality data' and claimed it had been public knowledge that deaths in hospitals were being counted separately to deaths inside the facilities.

The defense came amid a rocky day for the governor as state lawmakers voted to repeal his emergency powers and more staffers quit amid the escalating sexual harassment and nursing home storms. 

The New York State Senate passed a bill Friday by a 43-20 vote to rescind the expanded emergency executive powers which were handed to Cuomo to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Assembly followed later Friday, voting 107-43 to strip the governor of his emergency powers.  

The votes took place just hours after he was described as a 'textbook abuser' who 'used his temper to rule the office' by one of three women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. 

Andrew Cuomo (above) has denied his aides altered the data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths on the same day New York State lawmakers voted to strip the governor of his emergency powers

Andrew Cuomo (above) has denied his aides altered the data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths on the same day New York State lawmakers voted to strip the governor of his emergency powers

Cuomo's office on Friday denied the shock claims that Cuomo's aides pushed for a change to the definition of nursing home deaths in order to manipulate the data and downplay the number of deaths connected to long-term care facilities last year.  

Garvey said none of Cuomo's aides, including Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell and Secretary Melissa DeRosa, altered the figures.

She said the state had been clear with the public throughout the production of the report that deaths were being counted based on the place the individual died. 

'To be clear, multiple times during the time the July 6 DOH report was being developed, public statements were made during the daily briefings and in the press regarding the existence of the data, but noting that the deaths were being counted in the facility where individuals died,' she said.


'There were repeated public statements acknowledging the out of facility deaths were not being listed as a subset of nursing home deaths stemming from concerns related to potential for double counting and consistency and accuracy.'

She added: 'The out of facility data was repeatedly discussed in public briefings and we consistently acknowledged those deaths were being counted in the total death count through the place of death data.' 

The statement cited a number of press conferences, hearings and reports to support this claim including a May briefing where, in response to a reporter's question, former Cuomo adviser Jim Malatras said deaths in hospitals came under hospitalization deaths.

The embattled governor's Special Counsel Beth Garvey released a statement Friday hitting back at a bombshell report that Cuomo's office asked the state health department to change its definition of COVID-19 nursing home deaths back in July to mask the extent of the crisis

The embattled governor's Special Counsel Beth Garvey released a statement Friday hitting back at a bombshell report that Cuomo's office asked the state health department to change its definition of COVID-19 nursing home deaths back in July to mask the extent of the crisis

The statement released Friday by Cuomo's office that denies the cover-up by his aides

The statement released Friday by Cuomo's office that denies the cover-up by his aides

'Isabella Geriatric Center which is something we drew attention to this week, they issued a statement saying there have been 98 deaths but the official reporting shows less than that, something in the 60s. That does that not count hospital deaths. In other words someone goes from the facility to a hospital is that then counted differently?' asked a reporter on May 5.

Malatras responded: 'Those get reported in the hospitalization deaths.'

Malatras as well as Melissa DeRosa, the governor's top aide, and Linda Lacewell, the head of the state's Department of Financial Services were all allegedly involved in the revisions to the July report.

'COVID Taskforce members, including Melissa DeRosa, Linda Lacewell, and Jim Malatras, were involved in reviewing the draft report - none of them changed any of the fatality numbers or 'altered' the fatality data,' Garvey said.

The counsel insisted the change to the data's reporting came about 'after asking DOH questions' before a 'decision was made to use the data set that was reported by the place of death with firsthand knowledge of the circumstances, which gave a higher degree of comfort in its accuracy'. 

Garvey doubled down on Cuomo's ongoing argument that the place of death does not change the overall total number of New Yorkers killed by the virus at the time. 

'There was no undercount, as total deaths irrespective of location were always disclosed, and the methodology of how data was being presented was accurate,' she said.

Cuomo's office said the report 'was intended to detail whether the March 25 advisory memo contributed to increased deaths, and not be a full accounting of every death'. 

The report will now be updated to include the more complete number of nursing home deaths, she said.

Insiders told The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times Thursday that state health officials had originally included nursing home residents who died after being transported to hospitals in the tally of deaths in long-term care facilities in a report given to Cuomo's office in July. 

The New York State Senate passed a bill Friday to rescind the expanded emergency executive powers which were handed to Cuomo to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (above) said: 'Today, under this new legislation the governor will no longer be able to issue any new directives, period'

The New York State Senate passed a bill Friday to rescind the expanded emergency executive powers which were handed to Cuomo to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (above) said: 'Today, under this new legislation the governor will no longer be able to issue any new directives, period'

They said Cuomo's top aides requested the state health department remove the hospital deaths from the figures before the report was made public.

This revision resulted in the report detailing 6,432 nursing home deaths up to that point - a significant undercount of the actual death toll and down from the almost 10,000 which were included in the initial version of the report. 

Cuomo's most senior aides allegedly did not want to make that number public as the governor was under fire for an earlier directive that ordered infected patients to be sent back to facilities.

The true number of deaths among nursing home residents only became clear this year following a review by the state attorney general. 

New York state lawmakers moved Friday to repeal Cuomo's emergency powers as calls mount from both parties for him to resign over the scandal.  

Cuomo's additional emergency authority was approved in the early days of the pandemic last year, and designed to give him sweeping powers to rapidly change laws, in the midst of the public health emergency. 

All Senate Democrats voted in favor of the repeal while all Republicans voted against as they claim the move doesn't go far enough.  

'Today, under this new legislation the governor will no longer be able to issue any new directives, period,' said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. 

'In light of recent events, however, it is clear that we need to move toward a system of increased oversight, review and verification between the Legislature and the executive branch, and also limit the powers granted to the governor.' 

 The bill now goes to Cuomo's office. He is not able to veto it due to the vote margin has said he backs it anyway. 

Two more staffers quit Friday with at least five departing amid the scandals. Gareth Rhodes (above), a top coronavirus aide, announced he was leaving Wednesday days after a woman claimed Cuomo sexually harassed her at Rhodes' wedding

 Two more staffers quit Friday with at least five departing amid the scandals. Gareth Rhodes (above), a top coronavirus aide, announced he was leaving Wednesday days after a woman claimed Cuomo sexually harassed her at Rhodes' wedding

Two members of his press office - spokesman Will Burns and press secretary Caitlin Girouard (above) - also announced their departures this week

Two members of his press office - spokesman Will Burns and press secretary Caitlin Girouard (above) - also announced their departures this week

Once passed, Cuomo will only be able to create new directives or extend existing ones with the Legislature's approval. 

The fall from grace for the governor who last year won an Emmy for his pandemic press conferences and had been rumored to be in the running for Joe Biden's attorney general pick has thrown his office into turmoil with two more staffers quitting Friday. 

Cuomo's office confirmed health care data analyst Erin Hammond and scheduler Sophie Boldison are leaving their positions just days after three others announced their departures.

Both departures have been in process for some time with Hammond leaving to 'focus on her family' and Boldison moving to a new position at the state university system, Cuomo's office told the New York Post.

This marks at least five aides who have quit in the last week as the governor's team jump ship as three women - two former staffers - claim he sexually harassed them at work.  

Gareth Rhodes, a top coronavirus aide, announced he was leaving Wednesday days after a woman claimed Cuomo sexually harassed her at Rhodes' wedding.

In a statement, he said: 'Last week as I approached one year since moving to Albany to join the NYS Covid task force, I decided it was time, given the progress of the vaccination program and continued decline of Covid numbers, to return to my previous role at the Department of Financial Services and I informed the Governor's senior staff at the time.' 

Cuomo, pictured with his aide Melissa DeRosa who is accused of asking the state health department to revise the nursing home numbers

Cuomo, pictured with his aide Melissa DeRosa who is accused of asking the state health department to revise the nursing home numbers 

Two members of his press office - spokesman Will Burns and press secretary Caitlin Girouard - also announced their departures. 

Prior to this week's uproar, nine health officials also quit over claims Cuomo ignored their advice about COVID-19. 

The exodus comes amid the accusations of sexual harassment by two former staffers and reports of a 'bullying' working culture.

Nearly a dozen former and current staffers told Gothamist/WNYC the working culture inside Cuomo's office was one of a bullying environment.

Former staffers have described working there as having 'Stockholm syndrome', while others said they're 'kind of waking up to the fact that we were in a cult'.

Some said Cuomo was a 'micromanager to the 100th degree' and had a tough management style. 

The governor, who released a book about his leadership during the pandemic, has fallen from grace as new details continue to emerge about his handling of COVID-19 in the state's nursing homes and allegations surface of sexual harassment.

Cuomo had issued a directive on March 25 ordering nursing homes to readmit COVID-positive patients because of a lack of space in hospitals. 

Charlotte Bennett, 25, worked as an aide for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her 'terrified'

Charlotte Bennett, 25, worked as an aide for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her 'terrified'

Anna Ruch (above) alleges that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan
Lindsey Boylan, 36, claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and legs

Anna Ruch, 33, (left) claimed Cuomo behaved inappropriately at a Manhattan wedding in September 2019.  Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and legs


The move has been slammed for costing many lives given the elderly were especially vulnerable and that nursing homes were hotbeds for the virus. 

The ruling was reversed on May 10, barring nursing homes from accepting COVID-19 patients without a negative test first.  

This January, New York AG Letitia James said the state had downplayed the number of deaths of nursing home residents by 50 percent. 

The death toll was actually 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.

The new figures mean around one-seventh of the state's entire nursing home population of 90,000 have been killed by the virus.

The state's total death toll was unchanged following the revelation as the deaths had been counted in overall figures.

The change in number was down to nursing home residents who had been transported to hospital where they then died not being counted in the nursing home death tally.  

When the true figures were reported, Cuomo tried to defend himself saying 'who cares' where they died. 

'Died in a hospital, died in a nursing home - they died,' he said.

'But who cares? 33 [percent]. 28 [percent]. Died in a hospital. Died in a nursing home... They died.'   

In February Cuomo was then accused of intentionally hiding the data in a sign of a huge cover-up.

The governor's top aide Melissa DeRosa made the bombshell confession in a call with Democratic state legislators where she said officials 'froze' in August when then-President Donald Trump's Department of Justice asked for data on nursing home deaths.  

DeRosa said on the call the state had rebuffed the request.

Federal prosecutors began investigating a possible coverup of COVID deaths among nursing home residents. 

Ron Kim, a Democrat politician then claimed Cuomo rang him and threatened to 'destroy' him if he did not support him.

Now, Cuomo is also facing a probe into allegations of sexual harassment after three women came forward to accuse him in the last week.   

Lindsey Boylan, 36, was the first person to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment.

She worked for Cuomo's team from March 2015 to October 2018 and recounted her story of sexual harassment in the series of Twitter posts.


She then elaborated on her accusations in a February 24 blog post in which she said Cuomo once suggested a game of strip poker. 

Boylan claims the unwanted advances included an unsolicited kiss on the lips in Cuomo's New York City office, which the governor denies.  

Charlotte Bennett, 25, became the second woman to come forward.

She worked as a health policy adviser in the New York governor's administration. She was hired in the spring of 2019 and swiftly promoted to senior briefer and executive assistant only a few months later.  

She claimed he sexually harassed her, asking her questions about her sex life and telling her he would consider dating 'anyone above the age of 22' - she is 25.  

A third accuser, Anna Ruch, 33, then came forward telling the NYT that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding.  

Cuomo said he was apologizing to 'people' who were uncomfortable with his conduct but insisted he has never 'touched anyone' inappropriately. 

'I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,' Cuomo said. 

'It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. 

Asked about calls for him to step aside, the third-term governor said: 'I wasn't elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I´m not going to resign.'

Cuomo DENIES his aides altered nursing home death data: NY State lawmakers vote to STRIP the governor of his emergency powers on the same day three staffers quit amid sexual harassment storm Cuomo DENIES his aides altered nursing home death data: NY State lawmakers vote to STRIP the governor of his emergency powers on the same day three staffers quit amid sexual harassment storm Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 02:59 Rating: 5

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