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Cuomo Administration 'Froze' Over Nursing Home Data Requests

"We haven't flattened the curve, and the curve is actually increasing," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of new coronavirus cases Tuesday. Cuomo said his state now has more than 25,000 cases, as he gave an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at a news conference at Manhattan's Javits Center, which will house a temporary hospital.
For a time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily COVID briefings drew a national audience, serving as a kind of counterpoint to briefings held by then-President Donald Trump.

Amid accusations of a cover-up, state lawmakers have called for investigations, stripping Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers and even his resignation.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces intensifying accusations that he covered up the true death toll of COVID-19 on nursing home residents in his state. The attacks challenge the Democrat's reputation for straight-shooting competency and could cloud his political future.

New details emerged this week about why certain nursing home data was kept secret. Top Cuomo aid Melissa DeRosa told Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday the data was delayed because officials “froze,” over concern the information would be used against them by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.

State lawmakers have called for investigations, stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers and even his resignation. It's a stark turnaround from the praise and even an Emmy that Cuomo won for his leadership on the pandemic.

The criticism has come from Republicans and Democrats. Cuomo has called the attacks political.

The Cuomo administration for months dramatically underreported the statewide number of COVID-19 deaths among long-term care residents. It is now nearly 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.

The higher death tolls were only divulged hours after a report late last month from Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James examining the administration’s failure to include nursing home residents who died at hospitals.

During the pandemic, Cuomo gained a national profile for his hands-on approach to promoting public health policies and reducing infection rates.

For a time, his daily briefings drew a national audience, serving as a kind of counterpoint to coronavirus briefings held by then-President Donald Trump.

But questions about Cuomo's handling of nursing home safety have haunted his administration. Cuomo has drawn particular fire for an executive order issued in March requiring nursing homes to re-admit residents still recovering from COVID-19. His administration later rescinded the controversial order.

DeRosa issued a statement Friday saying that the state was slow to respond to the lawmakers because it was dealing with a Justice Department inquiry, and then with the virus’s resurgence in autumn and with vaccinations. The governor’s office declined to comment further.

Information from NPR was used in this report.