Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing serious new accusations in an ongoing scandal involving his state’s COVID-19 death toll among residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
His policy of returning convalescing patients back to such facilities earned widespread criticism last year, but growing outrage in recent days appears to have resulted in a federal investigation.
FBI, U.S. attorney’s office reportedly involved
As Fox News reported, the probe has not been officially confirmed or denied but is believed to be in its early stages and focused on senior members of the Cuomo administration. No one has been accused of wrongdoing as of the latest updates available.
The Albany Times-Union cited an unnamed individual with “direct knowledge of the matter,” who claimed that an investigation was recently launched into thousands of nursing home deaths throughout the ongoing public health crisis.
According to that report, the probe is being headed up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, which is based in Brooklyn. The FBI is also said to be involved.
Among those potentially facing federal scrutiny is Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services. She is also an attorney and formerly served as Cuomo’s chief of staff.
Others who could be caught up in a federal investigation include Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, Beth Garvey, counsel to the governor, and Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide.
“Looking into this for months”
DeRosa ignited new concerns about the situation in a recent conference call with state lawmakers, effectively admitting that the Cuomo administration had purposely covered up the accurate number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home patients.
Last month, the Associated Press cited its own investigation in determining that the governor’s office had been undercounting the death toll — at least in terms of the numbers released to the public.
That result appeared to align with a probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which led to the conclusion in a subsequent report that the rate of deaths had been underreported and, likely, Cuomo’s actions had caused more elderly patients to become infected and die.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi told the Times-Union that the Justice Department “has been looking into this for months,” adding that the administration has “been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
For those on both sides of the aisle who have sounded the alarms about Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home situation, it is past time for a thorough investigation.