00:09 GMT08 March 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US House Republicans representing the state of New York urged the Justice Department on Friday to open a probe into allegations Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration withheld information on the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.

    The call comes after reports in media stating that secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders admitted that the administration withheld from the federal government the actual information on the death toll in nursing homes, fearing it would be used against them.

    "It is now being reported that the Cuomo administration has admitted to knowingly withholding information on New York State's nursing home deaths out of fear it would be used against them as part of a federal investigation," the letter said on Friday. "We request your department immediately open an obstruction of justice investigation into Governor Cuomo and his administration."

    The letter was sent by the New York Republican Congressional delegation, including Representatives Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik, Chris Jacobs, Nicole Malliotakis, Andrew Gabarino, Tom Reed, John Katko, and Claudia Tenney.

    A Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, who, according to a Thursday New York Post report, apologized to Democratic lawmakers for placing them in a difficult "political position" after she failed to provide key data, on Friday attempted to clarify her words. 

    According to a new statement, the Cuomo administration "informed the houses of this at the time".

     "We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout", DeRosa stated. "As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic." 

    ​Last month, New York's Attorney General's Office said that the state's health department undercounted coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50 percent.

    New York was one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots at the height of the pandemic's breakout in the first half of 2020.

    At the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, the state had about 18,000 people in hospital and there were roughly 800 people dying a day from complications caused by the virus. As of Wednesday, there were 8,520 COVID-related hospitalizations in the state and 162 deaths.


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    coronavirus, COVID-19, Andrew Cuomo, Cuomo, New York, US
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