It’s impossible to overstate just how bad the last month has been for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The embattled Democrat has been hit with a wave of bad press, starting in late January with NY’s Democratic Attorney General Letitia James detailing how nursing home COVID death numbers could be as much as 50% higher than the state had officially reported. The undercounting, James said in so many words, was partially due to the deceptive way New York changed how nursing home deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus were calculated.
Another explosive report that hit after that revolved around the governor’s office admitting they deliberately withheld data on nursing home COVID patient deaths from state lawmakers to head off a potential investigation by Trump’s DOJ. Another bombshell report around the same time revealed the actual number of COVID-positive patients who were let back into nursing home facilities: 9,056, over 40% higher than what the state health department had initially reported.
Then there have been the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, with new ones hitting the papers almost every day. Many in his own party in the state legislature and beyond are turning against him, and calls for censure or impeachment are growing.
With all of that in mind, one would think it couldn’t get any worse for Gov. Cuomo. But it has.
News broke last night that senior Cuomo advisers altered a July report on nursing home deaths in the state in an effort to obscure how much higher the numbers actually were:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top advisers successfully pushed state health officials to strip a public report of data showing that more nursing-home residents had died of Covid-19 than the administration had acknowledged, according to people with knowledge of the report’s production.
The changes Mr. Cuomo’s aides and health officials made to the nursing-home report, which haven’t been previously disclosed, reveal that the state possessed a fuller accounting of out-of-facility nursing-home deaths as early as the summer. The Health Department resisted calls by state and federal lawmakers, media outlets and others to release the data for another eight months.
The New York Times noted in their story on the alteration of the report that the changes were made around the time Cuomo was preparing to write a book in which he capitalized on the media’s caricature of him as a magnificent leader in a time of crisis:
“I am now thinking about writing a book about what we went through,” Mr. Cuomo said four days after the report’s release, his first public comments about a possible book.
The Times framed the Cuomo administration’s actions as “the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a monthslong effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths,” but that’s not quite true.
As RedState and other conservative media outlets reported in May, the state admitted they made a change in early May on how nursing home deaths were calculated. They began excluding from the numbers any nursing home resident COVID deaths that happened after patients were transferred to a hospital.
As a result, New York’s nursing home death numbers appeared to be significantly lower than they actually were.
When asked about the attorney general’s report last month, Cuomo callously grumbled “who cares [where they] died?” But in deliberately withholding accurate information from the public on the actual numbers, Cuomo and his aides demonstrated that they obviously cared very much how it would look if the true number was known.
If Cuomo doesn’t resign over this, then the state must move to impeach him. There is simply no excuse for what happened here beyond trying to protect the fragile ego and media-driven image of Cuomo as the superhero of the pandemic at the expense of the families of the nursing home victims who just wanted answers.
Thank God they are now getting them, but they would have had them sooner had it not been for a media hell-bent on propping Cuomo up by making Trump and DeSantis the fall guys for his problems. It’d be nice if supposedly “respectable” news outlets would learn from this and not be so quick to dismiss conservative reporting on Democrats the next time around, but we shouldn’t hold our collective breath on that one.