Defensive New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Blames Overwork of Failure to Cover Covid Data Delay; The staff were not “in the south of France on vacation”

Suddenly on the defensive, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted on Monday that some data on Covid-19 deaths of nursing home residents was overdue and incomplete, but categorically denied a cover-up in his first public comments , as controversial statements by a senior official last week risk tarnishing his reputation as a national political and media star in the fight against the coronavirus.

“The truth is that everyone has done their best,” the governor said at a press briefing on Monday. “The truth is, it was in the middle of a terrible pandemic. The truth is, Covid is attacking the elderly. The truth is, with all we know, people are still dying.

The nursing home scandal was slow, but exploded after reports that Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admitted on a video call that Albany had been slow to provide the data requested by lawmakers in the State. She said she wanted to deal with the Justice Department’s inquiries first and had essentially ‘frozen’ over fears that numbers would be used against him by the former Trump administration.

New York Governor Cuomo admits errors over data lag in nursing homes, says “everyone did their best”

Cuomo said at the meeting that his overworked and dedicated staff had been too busy to respond quickly and sufficiently to inquiries from the press and families of Covid victims. This created an information vacuum, he said, filled with “skepticism, cynicism and conspiracy theories.”

“I understand that the public had many questions and the press had many questions and concerns about nursing homes and I understand that they weren’t answered quickly enough and should have been prioritized. But there was a lot going on. Everyone was overwhelmed. They were responding to the DOJ.

“Nature abhors a vacuum, just like the political system. If you don’t provide information, someone will… The vacuum that we have created has allowed for misinformation and it has created more anxiety for loved ones, ”he said.

“It’s not like people are in the south of France on vacation,” he added. “We were here every day. We should have answered questions more quickly. “

By publishing the nursing home death toll, critics had pointed out that the Cuomo administration did not include the deaths of nursing home patients who ultimately died in hospitals. The state had also been accused of recklessly releasing infected patients to nursing homes, which Cuomo has repeatedly denied and did again vehemently on Monday.

But DeRosa’s comments have sparked further outrage left and right with calls for an investigation. A bipartisan group of state senators called for the removal of the governor’s emergency powers granted during the pandemic. Some local GOP officials have even raised the possibility of impeachment.

Cuomo’s suddenly defensive stance stands in stark contrast to his status as Golden Boy governor which transformed New York City from the terrifying epicenter of the global pandemic into a state with one of the lowest infection rates in the country, and has wrote a book on how he did it. (American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic). He was elected president of the National Association of Governors and happily gloated over the Trump administration’s Covid response in widely watched press briefings.

On Monday, Cuomo insisted that preparing the data for the DOJ, which requested information on retirement homes in July in October, took precedence over state lawmakers, and that lawmakers were in the know. He suggested that their outrage was both dishonest and cruel by creating a false impression among some whose relatives had died in nursing homes that the deaths could have been avoided. He raised his own doubts when caring for his ailing father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo.

“My father did not die in a retirement home. He had heart disease for a long time and turned to me and I talked to the doctors and I was responsible for helping him. And I often wonder if I did all I could. Have I made all the right decisions? “

Asked by a reporter if an investigation could help clarify the situation, he replied, “I don’t think there is anything to be clarified here… All of the figures we provided were correct. We did not provide all the numbers requested and it created a void and people confused and allowed the conspiracy theories to fester [in a] politically toxic environment.

Cuomo’s woes come as another leading Democrat on the opposite coast, his California counterpart, Gov. Gavin Newsom, faces a recall campaign for his handling of the pandemic. His opponents said they had reached the 1.5 million signatures – which must be verified – required for a proposal.

Separately, today Governor Cuomo extended overnight subway service in New York City by two hours as the city prepares to reopen. The system will only be down between 2 and 4 a.m. from February 22 to clean the metro cars. This is right before it allows major venues across the state (10,000 seats or more) to reopen at 10% capacity with fans tested by Covid. This will impact mainly on sports venues, but also promises to revive live entertainment. A 100-day festival of live events called NY Pops Up is set to begin on February 20.

Cuomo authorized the resumption of reduced-capacity dining in the city last Friday and simply extended the hours of operation of restaurants and bars in the state from one hour to 11 p.m.

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