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Cuomo Criticized for Handling of Nursing Home COVID Data - Katie Anastas

ARCELIA MARTIN, HOST: Controversy continues to surround Governor Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 related deaths at nursing homes. Katie Anastas reports.

KATIE ANASTAS, BYLINE: Last March, Maria Porteus and her brother visited their dad at a nursing home in St. James, New York. It was his 80th birthday.

MARIA PORTEUS: When we tried to get in, they told us it was on lockdown. And while I was upset, I remember my brother saying to me, you know what, it’s better. At least he’s behind those walls and he’s safe.

ANASTAS: A few weeks later, she got a call that her dad had a fever. Porteus and her brother were allowed to visit for ten minutes. Her dad died later that afternoon. His was counted as a nursing home death. But thousands of others, those who left their nursing homes and died at hospitals, were not.

ANASTAS: Porteus and a dozen others joined a protest in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday, carrying photos of lost loved ones and signs accusing Cuomo of covering up the full nursing home death toll.

PORTEUS: Every day, you saw him on the TV, almost showboating about how well and how wonderful he’s doing of a job. Meanwhile, this is the reality of what happened.

ANASTAS: A state investigation found that the total number of nursing home deaths doubled to 15,000 once those who died at hospitals were counted. Last week, a top Cuomo aide admitted in a leaked phone call that the state delayed publishing its COVID data for fear that it would be used against them in a Justice Department investigation. Cuomo said they needed to focus on immediate pandemic crises.

ANDREW CUOMO: Everyone was busy. Everybody was here every day. We’re in the midst of managing a pandemic. There was a delay in providing the press and the public all that additional information.

ANASTAS: State lawmakers are demanding Cuomo be stripped of his emergency power, resign or even be impeached. The Albany Times Union reported the FBI and federal prosecutors have also launched an investigation into nursing home deaths. In 2018 the Greater New York Hospital Association donated more than a million dollars into a Democratic committee that backed Cuomo’s last primary campaign. Critics have linked this donation to Cuomo giving hospital and nursing home executives immunity from lawsuits related to COVID outbreaks.

ANASTAS: Katie Anastas, Columbia Radio News.

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