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COVID-19: DOJ Decision Not To Investigate NY Nursing Home Deaths Draws Criticism From GOP

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is among Republicans criticizing the DOJ.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is among Republicans criticizing the DOJ. Photo Credit: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Republican representatives are criticizing the Justice Department’s decision not to open a civil rights investigation into New York's COVID-19 response in its state-run nursing homes.

The department sent a letter to GOP Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republicans, saying it would not open the investigation. The department also declined to investigate allegations in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Requests for data from the nursing homes had previously been made due to questions about whether New York and other states worsened the COVID-19 death toll by requiring the facilities to accept residents who had been hospitalized for COVID-19. 

"The facts, victims & public interest warrant so much better than today’s decision by Biden’s DOJ not to investigate Andrew Cuomo’s deadly nursing home order & cover-up," Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island tweeted about the Justice Department's decision.

Scalise and upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 2 and 3 ranked Republican leaders in the House, also criticized the decision.

"Where is the justice for nursing home victims and their grieving families?" Scalise said. "These deadly orders contradicted the CDC’s guidance, and needlessly endangered the most vulnerable among us to the deadly COVID-19 virus. 

"Even worse, Governor Cuomo in New York intentionally tried to cover up the true death toll resulting from his mandate. Grieving families deserve answers and accountability. It’s unconscionable that Biden’s Department of Justice refuses to investigate the deadly actions that went against CDC’s medical guidance taken in these states.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James reported in January that an investigation found that a larger number of residents of the state's nursing homes died from COVID-19 than the state department of health's data reported "and may have been undercounted by as much as 50 percent."

"Based on these findings and subsequent investigation, Attorney General James is conducting ongoing investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concerns," the attorney general's office reported back in January. 

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