Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing heightened scrutiny following revelations that his office withheld the extent of the COVID-19 death toll among the state’s nursing home patients.
“Always publicly and accurately reported”
Though he did not offer an apology, he acknowledged during a press conference on Monday that his office should have done better in “providing more information” to the public related to the nursing home scandal.
The governor spent much of the press conference blaming the Trump administration for supposedly exacerbating the situation in his state.
Cuomo’s highly anticipated remarks were his first since reports that his aide, Melissa DeRosa, revealed in her phone conference that the Cuomo administration was less than forthcoming in revealing an accurate number in the state’s nursing home death tally.
Instead of taking full responsibility, the governor’s long-winded explanation included an assertion that “all the deaths in the nursing homes and in the hospitals were always publicly and accurately reported.”
That statement seems to fly in the face of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ recent report showing that nursing home deaths had been underreported by up to 50%.
“Maybe there was a government issue”
Nevertheless, Cuomo attempted to blame former President Donald Trump for stoking a “toxic political environment” and ultimately leading to the state’s mismanagement of information pertaining to the death toll.
“I was critical of President Trump, I also worked with President Trump,” Cuomo claimed. “I get how strong the feelings are on both sides. But when you’re talking about loved ones dying in nursing homes, when you come up with conspiracy theories or this disinformation, then the worst thing you can say to somebody who lost a loved one is maybe it didn’t have to be, maybe there was a government issue.”
He further focused on what he dubbed a “void” in the information process, which he contended had been filled in by false allegations and conspiracy theories.
“Now, we created the void,” Cuomo said. “I agree to that. Or, and or we didn’t constantly fight back every rumor or every piece of disinformation.”
Addressing calls for a mea culpa, Cuomo concluded: “Apologize? Look, I have said repeatedly, we made a mistake in creating the void. When we didn’t provide information, it allowed press, people, cynics, politicians to fill the void.”