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Cuomo: There Was No COVID Cover-Up

Says state should have released information on nursing home deaths more quickly
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2021 12:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Under fire over his management of the coronavirus' lethal path through New York’s nursing homes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the state didn't cover up deaths but should have moved faster to release some information sought by lawmakers, the public, and the press. “All the deaths in the nursing homes and hospitals were always fully, publicly and accurately reported,” the Democratic governor said, weeks after the state was forced to acknowledge that its count of nursing home deaths excluded thousands of residents who perished after being taken to hospitals. He explained the matter Monday as a difference of “categorization,” with the state counting where deaths occurred and others seeking total deaths of nursing home residents, regardless of the location, the AP reports. “We should have done a better job of providing as much information as we could as quickly as we could,” he said at a virtual news conference. “No excuses: I accept responsibility for that.”

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Cuomo, who has seen his image as a pandemic-taming leader dented by a series of disclosures involving nursing homes in recent weeks, said he would propose reforms involving nursing homes and hospitals in the upcoming state budget, without giving details. But he continued to blame a “toxic political environment,” and “disinformation” for much of the complaints surrounding his administration's handling of the issue. The head of a major association of New York nursing homes said the state erred by focusing too much on hospitals early in the pandemic and leaving nursing homes "scrambling to safeguard their residents and staff.” State lawmakers have been calling for investigations, stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers, and even his resignation after new details emerged this week about why certain nursing home data weren't disclosed for months, despite requests from lawmakers and others. (Much more on the issue and the timeline here.)

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