New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a press briefing on Friday following accusations in the NY Attorney General’s report alleging that his administration had underestimated the number of coronavirus-related deaths in local nursing homes.
According to Cuomo, these accusations were a "political attack" that began with former US President Donald Trump's administration.
"Where this starts is frankly a political attack from the prior federal administration and HHS… Michael Caputo," Cuomo claimed, saying "that was mean".
In turn, Caputo, assistant secretary of public affairs for the Health and Human Services Department in Trump’s administration, responded by stressing that “Cuomo is personally responsible for thousands of unnecessary nursing home deaths.”
"Early on, experts at the Health and Human Services administration identified Cuomo's foolish executive order as a primary cause for thousands of nursing home COVID deaths in New York. He's right, I called him out on it immediately,” the message reads.
Michael Caputo responds to Cuomo over reporting on nursing home deaths from COVID pic.twitter.com/X8pQA2e2AS— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 29, 2021
Cuomo also pointed out that with the new count the numbers did not change because the total number of fatalities across New York was not inaccurate, adding that “ninety-six percent of the people who died are older people with co-morbidities, which happens to be the population that lives in nursing homes.”
“If you look at New York state, we have a lower percentage of deaths in nursing homes than other states. One-third of all deaths in this nation are in nursing homes," the Governor claimed.
Saying that he understands the intention to blame the government to ease the suffering from the pandemic, Cuomo shifted responsibility to Trump and the Centers for Disease Control under his administration for their handling of the health crisis.
On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report, saying that the state's Department of Health had hidden half of the coronavirus-related deaths. According to the recent official data from New York Department of Health, 5,957 patients died from COVID-19 in nursing homes, along with 2,783 presumed deaths. In assisted care facilities, there were 160 deaths and 52 presumed deaths.
Speaking to the media the same day, Cuomo blamed the Trump administration for the death toll, saying that "incompetent government kills people".
Andrew Cuomo has been frequently excoriated for his approach to the deadly pandemic. Last March he issued an order forcing nursing homes to accept patients with symptoms of COVID-19 while these care facilities weren’t prepared enough to handle infected elderly people due to a lack of sufficient personal protective equipment for personnel, as well as low availability of testing.
The decision resulted in a surge of coronavirus cases among elderly patients, causing hundreds of deaths among the state's most vulnerable residents.