Gov. Cuomo defends handling of COVID-19, blames politics for nursing home deaths

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) defended his handling of the nursing homes, instead blaming politics for the scandal heating up after The New York Post’s exposé that his top aide said that officials withheld data about nursing home COVID-19 deaths amid a federal probe, according to The Post.

“This past year, there is a toxic political environment and everything is political,” Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing, in which he ignored the admissions made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, per The Post.

“New York was ground zero for Covid, and nursing homes were and still are ground zero for Covid,” Cuomo also said.

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“This past year there is a toxic political environment and everything gets politicized,” he added, saying that “[t]here is political spin and there are facts.”

The governor also rebuffed a bipartisan move to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers in the wake of DeRosa’s remarks, according to The Post.

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“Emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes,” Cuomo argued, saying that state lawmakers “can reverse any action I take.”

“They have never reversed a single action,” Cuomo said. “These are public health decisions, not local political decisions.”

In a Wednesday night conference call to Democratic lawmakers, DeRosa said: “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”

During the conference call, she also admitted that “basically, we froze” over months of being pressed by not only U.S. Department of Justice and the state legislature but also reporters and activists about the real death toll from nursing home deaths because of the coronavirus, which Cuomo ignored at the Monday press briefing, according to The Post.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.