ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s apparent coverup of the truth about nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t sit well with local representatives in Albany, who tell WNY News Now that Cuomo and his staff must be held accountable for the alleged cover up.
“It’s not the crime so much as the cover up and that’s what this is about,” State Senator George Borrello said Friday morning.
Borrello and State Assemblyman Andy Goodell responded to news that a top Cuomo aid apologized to certain state Democrats, saying the administration was fearful of a probe by the federal government.
“Melissa DeRoas wasn’t apologizing to the families who lost loved ones,” Borrello said. “She wasn’t apologizing for the non-transparency of the administration.”
He called the apology and the reason for it a “shocking revelation, it was also cold and heartless.”
Cuomo was grandstanding and putting politics ahead of people’s lives, Goodell furthered.
“Hopefully this will show that while Governor Cuomo was busy writing a book and getting an Emmy from Hollywood friends, thousand were dying because of his incompetence,” Goodell said.
He recalled that Cuomo basically ignored a hospital ship sent to New York City by the President Trump Administration, saying Cuomo didn’t want Trump to get credit for any measures he took to help New Yorkers.
“He’d rather send people to their death than send them to the ship hospital,” Goodell said.
Goodell said the apparent cover up of the nursing home deaths, is worse than Watergate because no one died in the Watergate debacle.
“Cuomo’s engaged in a coverup that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people,” Goodell said. “The cover up that Cuomo is engaged in” caused thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens to die. ”
While many politicians might not survive this type of mounting scandal, Cuomo is well protected, Borrello explained.
“Unfortunately, I think you’re going to see a lot of people shamelessly come to his (Cuomo’s) defense. Let’s face it, there are a lot of people who make money in this state with this governor,” he said.
Borrello contended that Cuomo has been hypocritical about the numbers.
“He’s the one who said ‘blame me, blame me’ when he was shutting down the economy, when he was causing so much economic pain,” Borrello said. “Now all of a sudden he wants to blame everybody else, from the federal government to God, anybody but himself.”
Borrello called it “arrogant hypocrisy” that Cuomo used the nursing home numbers to his advantage in October while being interviewed on CBS.
“He was bragging that New York was 46th out of 50 in nursing home deaths. It mattered to him then, when manipulating that data made him look good,” Borrello said. “Had they accounted for the numbers correctly, New York would be at the top of the list, not at the bottom. It made him look good.”
Cuomo and his administration could have possibly broken federal laws if they falsified information supplied to the federal government, Goodell explained.
The New York Post reported Thursday that Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers during a phone call for allegedly withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19.
The report claims Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said they “froze” out of fear that the true numbers would be “used against them” by federal prosecutors.
“Basically, we froze,” DeRosa told lawmakers on the call. “Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us, while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
Cuomo has been at the center of a storm of controversy following a January report by the New York Attorney General’s Office found the New York State Department of Health have undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
The state originally reported approximately 9,000 nursing home deaths, but following a court ordered release of data, increased the numbers to about 15,000 deaths.