New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York Department of Health have been accused in a report conducted by the state's Attorney General Letitia James of giving false data on the true total of nursing home deaths caused by the novel coronavirus. The allegations come after the governor had previously touted his performance during COVID-19 pandemic, even releasing a book that chronicled his leadership during the crisis.
Cuomo's policies on nursing homes had long been a point of intense scrutiny and criticism after the governor issued a directive in late March that mandated nursing homes be required to take in patients -- even if they had a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. The intent behind the rule was to free up hospital beds in case of an influx of patients. However, critics alleged that the policy allowed the disease to flourish in nursing homes.
After nursing home deaths appeared to spike in April, New York purportedly began withholding information about residents' fatalities at hospitals and only shared those that were on the properties.
However, despite refusing to give data to reporters on the total number of coronavirus fatalities -- despite numerous requests from outlets like the Associated Press -- Cuomo allegedly bragged about his performance in numerous statements and interviews and claimed that he was committed to telling his constituents the truth about the crisis.
"Visibility doesn't help if you don't know what you're talking about, or if you don't tell the truth," he said in an interview with Albany Law School.
"Winston Churchill's greatest act of courage during World War II wasn't facing the German army; it was facing the British people, and telling them the hard truth about their predicament. Visibility is irrelevant if you lie to people."
The governor also brushed off all criticism as politically motivated.
"Look at the basic facts where New York is versus other states," he said at a press conference back in August, per the AP. "You look at where New York is as a percentage of nursing home deaths, it's all the way at the bottom of the list."
This statement now appears to be false after an investigation found that the number of fatalities is around double what had previously been claimed by the state. With the updated estimated totals, New York has the highest total number of nursing home deaths by more than 160 percent.
In addition, the Office of the Attorney General added that it was committed to investigating the discrepancies that "cannot reasonably be accounted for by error."