New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is publishing a book on the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged nursing homes in his state and killed more than 32,000 people statewide. It’s uncertain if this is Cuomo’s way of telling his side of the story but the failure by New York state leadership to mitigate the spread of the virus to those most susceptible, specifically the elderly, was astonishing.
In fact, if it wasn’t for Fox News senior Meteorologist Janice Dean, along with other New York families, demanding answers from Cuomo and the decisions he made to essentially rehab those who had been infected with the novel coronavirus in nursing homes the story may have disappeared.
The announcement on Tuesday by Cuomo’s publicist, however, was so out of place. Families are still grieving and people are still dying. His book, titled the American Crisis, is expected to be published October, 13, according to Crown, a division of the Random House Publishing Group.
“A revealing behind-the-scenes account of his experience leading New York state through the COVID-19 epidemic,” the press release states. “American Crisis is an important chronicle of this unprecedented moment in history, an urgent assessment of the factors that have and continue to impede our national response to a devastating health and economic catastrophe…”
Dean, along with thousands of other New York City families, place the blame of the devastating health care catastrophe squarely on Cuomo. His decision to put thousands of recovering COVID-19 patients into nursing homes was the biggest chronicled failure of the deadly outbreaks and has caused endless pain and suffering for families, they said.
For instance, it was Cuomo, who signed an executive order in March forcing nursing homes in New York state to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus. He even suggested that no one could investigate the situation thoroughly because there was no one reliable enough that both Democrats and Republicans could trust. It’s actually quite stunning that so many thousands of people died and Cuomo isn’t even being held to account by Democrats in his own party.
He said “there is no such thing as a person who is trusted by all Democrats and Republicans. That person does not exist. The Department of Health – those are just numbers. They report our numbers. You can see what you want in the numbers, but the numbers are numbers,” said Cuomo.
What? Decades ago he would be dragged before a commission to answer questions about his apparent gross failure in the matter.
In fact, that is what Dean actually wants. Cuomo and his administration, however, appear to have been pushing back hard against her and other victims’ families. She was originally denied the opportunity to testify before New York State lawmakers on the nursing home deaths. It was a blatant move and proved that her voice was actually making a difference.
She openly blamed Cuomo and his administration for removing her off the witness list. Dean isn’t afraid to fight back and tell the truth. Her tenacity paid off and by Monday, she was finally allowed to testify after being placed back on the witness list. Her testimony was powerful.
She told lawmakers, “we need an independent bipartisan investigation that involves subpoena power so we can get the health commissioner on the hot seat and ask questions and get truthful answers.”
According to Fox News she said New York State Sen. Thomas O’Mara, a Republican, had admitted to her “that they [the Senate Majority] were uncomfortable having [her] as a witness,” originally, so they took her off the witness list.
Dean fired back in a Tweet Tuesday at the announcement of Cuomo’s new book, saying it was his leadership “that was an American crisis.”
For Dean it is personal. Her in-laws Mickey and Dee Newman both died just months after being put into a New York City elder care facility, when they could no longer take care of themselves. They were two of nearly 11,000 deaths recorded in nursing homes throughout the state. It was the highest recorded number of nursing home deaths in the country.
The New York couple had lived their entire lives in Brooklyn, Dean wrote in a gut wrenching column in USA Today, about how the loss affected her family.
They were true New Yorkers. Mickey was a retired New York City Fire Department firefighter who served in the U.S. Air Force. Dee helped raised three kids and was a devoted grandmother. They lived in a four story walk up in Brooklyn for 50 years, until their health deteriorated and they required constant care.
Cuomo’s failure in protecting the most vulnerable in New York state will be his legacy, if Dean gets a chance to write her own book about the truth of what happened in New York City during the ongoing pandemic.
Cuomo’s book, unfortunately, won’t change the reality of what happened. The truth will eventually reveal what occurred. It won’t bring back those that lost their lives to this dangerous and deadly virus but it will hopefully ensure that the gravity of New York’s deadly decision making under Cuomo’s leadership will never happen again.
At least that’s something we can all fight for. Dean’s fight is our fight.
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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