NEW YORK – A new report is backing up claims that aides for Governor Andrew Cuomo altered nursing home data to show fewer deaths than there were.
An article by the New York Times claims that top aides, including Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, worked to rewrite a report by state health officials to hide how many nursing home residents died in the coronavirus pandemic. None of those people have public health experience.
The Times says that the state’s data had the death toll nearly 50 percent higher than what was being publicly cited by the Cuomo administration. The paper cited interviews and documents that they reviewed.
The Cuomo Administration has been facing increasing pressure for transparency on its handling of nursing homes during the pandemic.
Much of the criticism surrounds a March 25 directive that sent recovering coronavirus patients back to nursing homes.
As the voices of the Governor’s critics grew louder, a January report by the New York Attorney General’s Office found the Department of Health may have undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.
The Department followed up by sending a report that outlined the number of nursing home deaths to the state legislature months after the data was requested.
The Times reports that the “back-and-forth” of the edited report “went well beyond the usual process of the governor’s office suggesting edits to an agency report, and became ‘intense’ at times, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.”
Even then, the paper said the higher death toll was not removed; with Cuomo’s staff allegedly removing it later.