A defiant New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday derided reports and allegations that his administration severely downplayed the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and hid the numbers to avoid a federal investigation, saying that it’s “a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate.”
“It is a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate,” Cuomo told reporters at a Friday press conference. “That is a lie. Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals.”
“I’m not going to let New Yorkers be lied to,” Cuomo also said. “I’m not going to let you hurt New Yorkers by lying about what happened surrounding the death of a loved one.”
In recent weeks, the administration revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed, according to NBC News.
It was first reported Wednesday by The Albany Times Union that, following reports about the numbers, the FBI and the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn have begun a preliminary investigation into how Cuomo’s administration handled data about COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
On top of that, a February 11 New York Post exposé reported that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had privately admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration withheld death data out of fear that it would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.
Furthermore, state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D) claimed to The New York Post on Wednesday that Cuomo recently threatened him over the phone, warning Kim that he would be “destroyed” if he did not help contain the damage over his alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths. Cuomo’s senior advisor, Richard Azzopardi, denied Kim’s story and accused the Queens assemblyman of lying.
Adding more fuel to the fire, a study released Thursday by the nonprofit Empire Center for Public Policy, according to The Post, tied “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000” nursing home deaths to a since-rescinded March 25, 2020 directive that controversially ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients during the pandemic’s early stage.
A quickly growing number of state and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling either for a full investigation into Cuomo’s administration, stripping him of his pandemic-related emergency powers, or removing him from office entirely.
Friday afternoon, in a major development, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined the calls for a “full investigation.”
“I support our state’s return to co-equal governance and stand with our local officials calling for a full investigation of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during COVID-19,” she wrote in a statement, according to The Post.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Rep. Patrick McHenry Announces Retirement, Adding to Congressional Exodus
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., has declared that he will not seek re-election, becoming the latest in a growing list of lawmakers departing from Congress. McHenry, a close ally of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, stated that he believes “there is a season for everything,” signaling the end of his tenure in the House. Having served since 2005, McHenry is the 37th member of Congress to announce they won’t seek re-election in 2024.
In a statement, McHenry reflected on the significance of the House of Representatives in the American political landscape, calling it the “center of our American republic.” He acknowledged the concerns about the future of the institution due to multiple departures but expressed confidence that new leaders would emerge and guide the House through its next phase.
The departure of McHenry and others comes against the backdrop of political shifts and challenges within the Republican Party. The GOP has faced setbacks in recent elections, including fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Internal strife and disagreements, exemplified by the rebellion against McCarthy, have characterized the party’s dynamics. The GOP’s approval rating stands at 30%, with a disapproval rating of 66%, reflecting the challenges and divisions within the party.
As McHenry steps aside, questions loom over the fate of open seats in the upcoming election. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report identifies five open House seats as potential Democrat pickup opportunities, while none are listed for the GOP. The departures raise concerns about the party’s unity and ability to navigate the evolving political landscape.
With a total of 20 departing Democratic legislators and 10 Republicans, the changing composition of Congress adds complexity to the political dynamics leading up to the 2024 elections. As McHenry emphasizes a hopeful view of the House’s future, the evolving political landscape will determine the impact of these departures on the balance of power in Congress.
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