The fallout over the deaths of nursing home residents continues for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as he and his top aides are facing more allegations that they actively covered up the extent of COVID-related nursing home deaths in order to avoid any potential federal investigations into the state’s conduct.
“I am grateful for the whistleblower. For the Democratic lawmaker that thought it was important enough to leak to The New York Post,” Janice Dean, senior meteorologist for Fox News, said in an interview with The Daily Citizen. As a result of Cuomo’s COVID policy regarding nursing homes, Dean lost both of her in-laws and has become a passionate and outspoken advocate for her family and others that lost loved ones.
The leak came from a video conference call with Democratic lawmakers headed by Cuomo’s aide Melissa DeRosa. In the meeting, she apologized for the extent of the nursing home death toll cover up and seemingly blamed former President Donald Trump for the state’s lack of transparency.
According to a leaked audio recording of the meeting, DeRosa said, “[Trump] starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes. He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
Due to Trump’s calls for the Department of Justice to investigate the deaths in New York, DeRosa explained, “basically, we froze.”
“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.”
DeRosa added, “That played a very large role into this.”
As The New York Times explained, “The disclosures have left Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, scrambling to contain the political fallout, as lawmakers of both parties call for censure, including stripping the governor of his emergency powers during the pandemic, federal and state investigations and resignations of Ms. DeRosa and other top officials.”
“You know, I believe that some of these Democratic lawmakers are getting brave, and they are going against this leader that has always really been about power, and my way or the highway and has ruled with an iron fist,” Dean said. “He’s well-known as a bully, and he’s also very vindictive.”
“His administration has called me names and tried to silence me. My hat’s off to the brave Democratic lawmaker that decided to release that audio.”
It’s not just family members and the opposition party members that are outraged.
“This is a betrayal of the public trust,” State Senator Andrew Gounardes, a Democrat from Brooklyn, wrote on Twitter. “There needs to be full accountability for what happened.”
“It is time to move past the lies and finally uncover the full truth,” Representative Tom Reed said. Representing the state’s right-leaning 23rd District, he is another calling for a federal investigation into what happened.
“Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the Attorney General of New York State and the U.S. Department of Justice,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a rising star in the Republican party, wrote in a statement.
Stefanik continued, “This bombshell admission of a coverup and the remarks by the Secretary to the Governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power.”
For the families that have experienced the loss of loved ones under Cuomo’s orders, there are strong hopes that the revelations will result in an investigation.
“We’ve been calling for an independent bipartisan investigation from the very beginning pretty much, when we knew that he had put the mandate in place to put over 9,000 COVID-positive patients into nursing homes,” Dean said. “And the fact that now we know he’s definitely been covering up the numbers, with that admission. So, I would hope that there is some kind of culpability here.
“I don’t know if it’ll come on the state level. There was a Justice Department investigation that I heard was closed under President (Joe) Biden, but now with these revelations I would certainly hope that they would reopen it or have some interest in doing that because it’s about families. It’s a human story, not just some story that doesn’t affect thousands of people and this really, when we look back on COVID in New York state, this really should be the biggest story.”
The Daily Citizen will continue to follow this story.
Photo from Mike Segar/REUTERS