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Cuomo aides changed nursing home report to hide higher death toll in New York: report

The state's public health department officials quit their jobs following clashes with Cuomo's aides.

Cuomo aides changed nursing home report to hide higher death toll in New York: report
Image Source: Getty Images/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Byron Smith)

New York governor Andrew Cuomo's top aides re-worked a nursing home report to drastically reduce the death count to make the governor's office look good, according to reports. The nursing home report written by state health officials included a count of how many nursing home residents had died in the pandemic, in New York. Cuomo's top aides worked to reduce the death count as the governor was preparing to write a book about his purported success in handling the pandemic in the state, reported The New York Times. The death toll reported by the New York health department was roughly 50 percent higher than the figure cited publicly by the Cuomo administration.

Image Source: Getty Images/ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado)


The aides allegedly involved with changing the report are Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Linda Lacewell, the head of the state’s Department of Financial Services; and Jim Malatras, a former top adviser to Cuomo. This is even more incredulous when you consider none of them had any public health expertise. This news comes at a time when Andrew Cuomo faces three sexual harassment allegations, with two of them being his former aides. 


Cuomo hid data of nursing home deaths
Cuomo had become a popular figure after making regular TV appearances and giving updates on the pandemic. His interviews with brother Chris Cuomo of CNN almost became a segment in itself. Despite rumors of a high death count in nursing homes, Cuomo didn't release any data on the same. Earlier this year, the state attorney general confirmed that thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted by Cuomo's office. Faced with pressure, Cuomo consented to release the data. He claimed that he didn't release the data out of fear that the Trump administration might pursue a politically motivated inquiry into the state’s handling of the outbreak in nursing homes.


NY health department officials quit
New York Times reported that six people with direct knowledge of the discussions between the governor's office and the state's health officials said that Cuomo was hiding numbers from months earlier. Cuomo had also ignored public health expertise as he hid numbers and postured as a strong leader in the country's fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. The Health Department worked on the state's report along with McKinsey, a consulting firm hired by Cuomo. It was found that New York had recorded 9,250 deaths, which was almost 3,000 more than the next-highest state at the time — New Jersey (6,150). Cuomo's aides pushed for a reduced death count which eventually led to clashes between the governor's administration and the state’s top public health officials. The report eventually said only 6,432 people had died in nursing homes. This was followed by some staff quitting the state's health department.

Image Source: Getty Images/ Demonstrators call on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign at a rally on March 2 in New York City. Calls for Cuomo's impeachment or resignation have escalated in the wake of multiple women coming forward to accuse the governor of sexual harassment. (Photo by Scott Heins)

Cuomo came under fire for issuing an order telling nursing homes they couldn't turn away patients who had tested positive for Coronavirus. Similar orders were also issued in other states. The aim was to stop hospitals from reaching full capacity at the time. Many Republicans argued that the order had caused the high death count in nursing homes. Even after the report's release, he continued to portray his handling of the crisis as a success. “I am now thinking about writing a book about what we went through,” said Cuomo. He had also sought formal approval from a state ethics agency to earn outside income from book sales.

Sexual harassment allegations
Three women, including two former aides, accused Cuomo of sexual harassment over the past month. As we reported, Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo's former personal aide, was the first one to accuse him of sexual harassment. Boylan said he had harassed her on several occasions between 2016 to 2018. Charlotte Bennett, another one of Cuomo's former aides said the governor asked questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous and if she had ever had sex with older men. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” said Bennett. The third woman, Anna Ruch, who worked on the campaigns of Obama and Biden, said Andrew Cuomo misbehaved with her and asked if he could kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019. The New York Times published an image of the moment where Cuomo can be seen holding her face in both his hands.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized for his behavior after being accused of sexual harassment by three women. "I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately," said Cuomo. "I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable." New York Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. 

Disclaimer: Information about the pandemic is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency of developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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