New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking some heat after attempting to shift the blame on the state’s COVID-19 nursing home deaths by placing the culpability on the “incompetent federal government" after Attorney General Letitia James issued a report that found that deaths may have been underreported by as much as 50 percent during the pandemic.
- Earlier story - COVID-19: NY AG Report Says Nursing Home Deaths May Have Been Undercounted By 50 Percent
During an appearance on MSNBC earlier this week, Cuomo took another jab at the administration of former President Donald Trump, saying that “incompetent government kills people. More people died than needed to die in COVID. That’s the truth.”
Cuomo later reiterated the same talking point on CNN.
- Related story - COVID-19: DOJ Will Decide Whether To Probe Cuomo's Nursing Home Response, White House Says
James’ investigation found several missteps in both the state’s handling and nursing homes’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding both put residents and employees at greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
Cuomo doubled down on his stance during a COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Jan. 29 in Albany in which he made his first public comments are the report was released the previous day.
“The state Department of Health followed the federal guidance, so if you think there was a mistake, then go talk to the federal government. It’s not about point fingers or blame … this all became a political football,” he said. “Whether a person died in a nursing home, or a person died in a hospital, it’s still … people died.
“I believe everyone did the best they could," Cuomo said. "I believe the federal government, the CDC, believe they gave the best guidance they could.
“I believe the Department of Health gave their best guidance and made the best decisions based on the guidance they had … but that doesn’t mean people didn’t die and people won’t die today or tomorrow.”
Cuomo made note that the federal guidance said that people who were in hospitals but who are presumed not contagious could go back to the nursing homes that could handle them, and by law, those nursing homes had to say whether or not they could handle that person," Cuomo said on Friday. "The OAG's report on the Department of Health said that if a nursing home accepted the person and couldn't handle the person, then they violated the law.
"I do wish, I wish this never happened," Cuomo continued contritely. "I wish none of it happened. With there was no COVID. Wish no old people died. Wish I didn't have to call in the National Guard who got sick or for the essential workers to leave their homes, some of whom got sick and died. I just wish none of it happened."
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