A top aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized to Democratic lawmakers for not releasing New York’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19.
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa stated that “we froze” out numbers that she felt would “be used against us,” and Wednesday publicly apologized for putting them in a difficult position over the death toll.
DeRosa’s apology comes after the release of a report at the end of January from state Attorney General Letitia James, stating that New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) undercounted COVID-19 deaths among residents of nursing homes by approximately 50%.
The cover-up was done while DeRosa was on a video conference call with state Democratic leaders.
She claimed that the Cuomo administration had rejected a legislative request for the numbers back in August, putting the blame on President Trump who “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football.”
Those words from DeRosa were discovered during the two hour meeting, which was recorded.
Inquiries from state lawmakers were also addressed on the call, this after an August 3rd joint committee hearing on COVID-19 residential health care facilities. Lawmakers had demanded a full transparency on the COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes.
DeRosa claims that Trump’s harsh words on social media regarding the numbers put the administration in a difficult position, and that they “froze” when asked for answers about the number of those that had passed in the nursing homes from COVID.
“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
“What I would say is everyone did the best they could. When I say the State Department of Health — as the report said — the State Department of Health followed federal guidance,” Governor Cuomo said during a press conference on January 29th.
“So, if you think there was a mistake, then go talk to the federal government. It’s not about pointing fingers or blame. It’s that this became a political football right. Look, whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home. It’s – People died. People died.”
After admitting the cover-up, DeRosa requested “a little bit of appreciation of the context” and offered what appears to be the Cuomo administration’s first apology when it comes to how things in the state’s nursing homes were handled during the pandemic.