The Department of Justice, as well as the US District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, have launched dual investigations into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order to send COVID-positive patients to New York State nursing homes.
According to local media reports, the recently launched US Attorney’s investigation is focusing on Cuomo’s disastrous nursing home order. The order, issued with emergency powers granted to Cuomo by the New York State Legislature, resulted in over 15,000 deaths, almost double what his administration originally reported.
Cuomo’s office acknowledged to local news outlets that there is a Department of Justice investigation in progress but refused to comment further.
“As we publicly said, [Department of Justice] has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, one of Cuomo’s senior aides told reporters. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Cuomo's coronavirus task forcehttps://t.co/TQaNn5v1S4
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 18, 2021
Last year, in two letters to the Cuomo administration, a civil division attorney at the Department of Justice’s Washington, DC, headquarters sought information on New York State’s nursing home policies and data. It is unclear whether the US Attorney’s probe is related to those letters.
As the pandemic was in its nascent stages, Cuomo’s office issued an emergency order that required nursing homes and other long-term adult care facilities to accept COVID-positive patients.
Two months later after thousands of COVID-positive patients had been mandatorily sent to institutions housing the most vulnerable in our society, Cuomo rescinded the order.
Cuomo sloughed off questions about the controversial policy. But that all changed last week when Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa was caught during a closed-door teleconference meeting with top Democrats in the New York Legislature saying the administration had withheld nursing home data from lawmakers for months due to the Justice Department’s inquiry.
“Basically, we froze because 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 and what we start saying was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa told the lawmakers.
Cuomo faces federal investigation over handling of nursing home deaths https://t.co/feXZgoxdVj
— Guardian news (@guardiannews) February 18, 2021
Cuomo took to the cameras to again attempt to skirt responsibility, refusing to apologize for the situation, saying his administration had created a “void” by not providing the information requested by state lawmakers.
“Apologize? Look, I have said repeatedly, we made a mistake in creating the void,” Cuomo said indignantly. “When we didn’t provide information it allowed press, people, cynics, politicians to fill the void. When you don’t correct this information, you allow it to continue and we created the void.”
Cuomo has blamed nursing home staff for introducing the COVID virus into the nursing home facilities.