Democratic New York Gov. has come under mounting fire in the wake of revelations that his office allegedly undercounted nursing home deaths during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When reporters asked Dr. Anthony Fauci about the matter during a recent press conference, however, he had nothing to add.
“Following federal guidelines”
Fauci rose to prominence as a leading COVID-19 adviser under the Trump administration and has taken on an even more prominent health advisory role under President Joe Biden.
Despite being instantly recognized as the face of America’s battle against the pandemic, however, reporters could not elicit a direct response in connection to arguably the biggest current scandal involving the virus.
On Tuesday, Fauci sat down to answer questions on the matter and reporters touched on various aspects of the COVID-19 response plan.
The White House chief medical adviser clammed up, however, when a CNN reporter dared to ask for his thoughts on the Cuomo nursing home controversy. Jim Sciutto’s query was especially notable given the fact that the governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo, hosts his own show on the cable news network.
“Andrew Cuomo is coming under criticism now for the big move back to long-term care facilities in the midst of this crisis here,” Sciutto said. “He’s argued that his state was following federal guidelines when he ordered those long-term care facilities to accept patients returning from hospitals. I wonder, can you clear that up. Was he actually following federal guidelines to do that?”
“I prefer not to comment”
Fauci skirted the issue, responding: “You know Jim, I can’t.”
He went on to assert that he was not, in fact, dodging the question, but merely that he was afraid any response he provided would be taken out of context.
“So, I prefer not to comment on that,” Fauci declared.
An ongoing scandal regarding New York’s nursing home policies in the early days of the pandemic intensified amid reports that a top aide acknowledged during a phone conference with state officials that the Cuomo administration did not release the complete death toll as requested by the Trump administration.
The governor himself addressed the issue this week but attempted to shift the blame onto the former president for spreading misleading information about the state’s COVID-19 response. Nevertheless, Cuomo acknowledged: “We made a mistake in creating the void when we didn’t provide information. It allowed press people, cynics, politicians to fill a void.”