Originally published February 3, 2021
This week, New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo for massively undercounting the nursing home deaths that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suit came as a shock to many New Yorkers who have been idolizing Cuomo this past year. Anyone who was watching alternative media sources, however, was aware of this “news” for months already.
Back in April, when the virus ravaged the nursing home population in New York, many questioned Cuomo’s executive order to force nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients. This was done on March 25, where the order stated, “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” New York was one of only five states to have an order that required that, and those five states had the highest death toll in the country during the first wave of the pandemic.
When Cuomo finally reversed himself in May, he said that nursing home deaths were among the lowest in the country. “Whatever we’re doing has worked, on the facts,” said Cuomo. “Look at how many residents we have in nursing homes, look at the percentage of our deaths in our nursing homes vis-à-vis other states, we’re down by like number 34.” That data was false, as reported by the Daily Caller on May 15.
As Andrew Kerr reported, “New York has omitted an unknown number of coronavirus deaths in recent reports regarding residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities, the New York State Department of Health acknowledged in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.” This is due to New York’s unique method of counting COVID nursing home deaths. New York is the only state that did not count a COVID death as a nursing home death if the death occurred outside the nursing home, even if it originated in a nursing home. Once the patient was loaded into the ambulance, that was no longer a “nursing home patient.”
If not a downright lie, this is at least incredibly misleading. Yet the Cuomo team touted their accomplishments for months. Any criticism of their policy was deflected to the media’s favorite punching bag, President Trump. On May 23, Cuomo blamed the Trump administration for his own nursing home policy. “What New York did was follow what the Republican Administration said to do,” Cuomo said at a press conference. “That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.” This was not official CDC COVID policy, as Cuomo claimed. This was a directive that was not specific to COVID, and 45 out of 50 states “followed the science” and kept the elderly as far away from the virus as they could. Additionally, those CDC guidelines required strict hygiene requirements that were not met in many New York facilities.
Meteorologist Janice Dean of Fox News has been on top of this story for over six months. Both her father-in-law and mother-in-law were in an adult care facility where they contracted the virus and died. On July 22, Dean said, “That order stayed in effect for 46 days during which time over 6,000 patients with the virus were placed into these facilities housing our most vulnerable.” She said this the day after Cuomo declared victory against the virus and claimed that other states were messing up the virus response. “The problem is you have it now increasing in 40 states across the nation,” Cuomo said in late July. “How do you keep the virus in 40 states from coming into New York? We now have people coming to New York fleeing from the other states because it’s the ‘safe’ state.”
In August, the Associated Press reported that in at least one New York facility, four deaths were reported where the actual number was 21. “That statistic that could add thousands to the state’s official home care death toll of just over 6,600,” the AP wrote. “But so far, the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to divulge the number, leading to speculation the state is manipulating the figures to make it appear it is doing better than other states and to make a tragic situation less dire.”
In October, Cuomo was in full cover-up mode. His claim that “it just never happened that we needed a nursing home to take a COVID-positive person,” was so false that even CNN fact-checked him. “Cuomo’s assertion that ‘it never happened’ is false,” they reported. “According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, “6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to [nursing home] facilities” following Cuomo’s mandate that nursing homes accept the readmission of COVID-positive patients from hospitals. Whether or not this was ‘needed,’ it did in fact happen.” Also in October, Cuomo released his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which debuted at #7 on The New York Times Bestseller List. When that happened, Cuomo tweeted, “Let’s learn the lessons of the spring to be smart in fighting back this virus now.”
In November, Cuomo was given an Emmy for his daily briefings. Also in November, daily cases in New York began to trend upwards again. The media coverage of Cuomo remained glowing, as all their COVID ire was directed at President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Now that President Trump is out of the White House and President Biden is in charge, the media needs a new COVID villain. Attorney General Letitia James may have provided that in an attempt to clear the way for her own gubernatorial run. No Democrat, aside from Barack Obama, had as high an approval rating as Andrew Cuomo has enjoyed this past year. As the saying goes, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” A cynic could look at the release of this report from the AG’s office and see political opportunity.
Politics aside, Cuomo has botched the COVID response and the vaccine rollout in New York State. He covered up his own ineptitude while getting wealthy off of book deals and media accolades. But nobody should pretend that this is “news”; it isn’t. Cuomo’s failures have been present throughout this crisis; they were just buried beneath the sycophants who turned a blind eye to his incompetence.