New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is again making headlines for the wrong reasons, this time because his aides reportedly doctored documents to conceal the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.
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It is alleged in a New York Times report that Cuomo’s aides rewrote a report from state health officials to conceal the true number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes while strengthening his reputation as a leader.
According to the report, Cuomo’s aides rewrote the report before it went public to omit 9,250 deaths that were recorded by the state Health Department, prompting an internal battle within the administration.
“The changes sought by the governor’s aides fueled bitter exchanges with health officials working on the report,” the Times reported. "The conflict punctuated an already tense and devolving relationship between Mr. Cuomo and his Health Department, one that would fuel an exodus of the state’s top public health officials."
The doctored documents reportedly happened as Cuomo was beginning to write his best-selling book depicting his leadership while successfully navigating through the pandemic in New York.
The reporters at the Times said they have spoken with several people and reviewed documents for its report, which alleges that Cuomo’s efforts to omit or manipulate data about nursing home deaths came far earlier than previously admitted.
In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report saying that thousands of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes had not been counted, which prompted calls for Cuomo to resign from both sides of the aisle.
Cuomo defended the undercounting by citing concerns about former President Donald Trump’s administration using those figures to make a political move against New York.
Three top Cuomo aides were named in the article for their involvement in altering the report: Melissa DeRosa, the Secretary to the Governor; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s department of financial services; and Jim Malatras, a former adviser of the governor who was brought back to work on the pandemic.
In response to the Times article, Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s special counsel, issued a statement saying "The out-of-facility data was omitted after Department of Health could not confirm it had been adequately verified. This did not change the conclusion of the report.”
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