06:41 GMT07 March 2021
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    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly denied that his office withheld or misrepresented data regarding nursing home deaths.

    New York State Democratic legislators have slammed the state's Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday for his explanation at a press conference, where he told reporters why he'd failed, for months, to release a true account of nursing home residents who died from the coronavirus.

    Cuomo claimed that last summer the Department of Justice and state legislators simultaneously submitted requests for data and that his team decided to prioritise the federal inquiry. He also said that his team informed state lawmakers that their request for data would be "paused".

    "We gave precedence to the DOJ. We told the assembly that, we told the Senate that and that's what we did. We were also in the midst of managing a pandemic," Cuomo said.

    He also claimed that it was "breakdown in communication between the staff and members of the legislature" to blame for any disconnect between his office and state lawmakers.

    The Democratic legislators, however, did not buy Cuomo’s explanation. State Sen. Julia Salazar claimed the Governor was lying.

    State Sen. John Liu said the federal probe wasn’t an excuse for “months and months of delays” in “misleading” or “withholding information that the public deserves to know..

    “For months and months we’ve been asking the executive branch, the governor’s office for this information. It was information our constituents were demanding from the state government,” Liu said on Fox News channel.

    State Sen. Jessica Ramos also said the legislature hasn’t been notified about a DOJ investigation.

    Other Democratic legislators also said they first learned of the DOJ probe into New York nursing home deaths in local newspapers.

    Cuomo said that state lawmakers were "wrong" to suggest they were never informed about the delay for their data request. He expressed regret over the delays in releasing data.

    New York was one of the hardest-hit COVID-19 areas in the United States in 2020. 18,000 people were residing in hospital at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic and 800 per day were dying of related causes.

    Tags:
    COVID-19, Andrew Cuomo, New York, US
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