Melissa DeRosa, who serves as one of the top aides for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, admitted in a video call that their administration concealed data about the true number of nursing home deaths caused by the novel coronavirus due to fears of an investigation from the Department of Justice.
According to The New York Post, DeRosa, who boasts the title of Secretary to the Governor, made the statements during a conference with other top Democratic lawmakers in the state. As captured in a recording of the call, the top aide claimed that Cuomo's administration "froze" in August when faced with a legislative request to disclose a tally of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
Instead of releasing the information, the Cuomo-led officials only offered the number of people who died while physically in the elderly care facilities -- meaning that those who passed away in hospitals or even ambulances were not counted.
DeRosa defended the decision to hide the true death toll by citing political motivations and claiming that they did not want to give ammunition to then-President Donald Trump or the Department of Justice.
"[Trump] starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes," she said. "He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer."
"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... was going to be used against us while we weren't sure if there was going to be an investigation," she added.
Though she apologized for their actions, many lawmakers were not satisfied. Queens-based Assemblyman Ron Kim -- whose uncle died from COVID-19 in an elderly care facility in April -- said it sounded as if they "admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence" about the fatal consequences of Cuomo's policy.
The public was only recently made aware of the true total of elderly care deaths after the state's Attorney General Letitia James released a bombshell report on the matter. The investigation accused the governor of underreporting nursing home fatalities by around 50 percent. Ironically, Cuomo had previously boasted about his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even releasing a book chronicling his leadership during the crisis, per The Inquisitr.
While the furor has resulted in a public relations disaster, it appears that the Cuomo administration will not suffer legal consequences. Since President Joe Biden has taken office, the Department of Justice has reportedly dropped any potential plans to investigate the scandal.