A visibly irritated Gov Andrew Cuomo (D) again refused to take responsibility for the nursing home fallout in his state following reports that his administration covered up coronavirus fatality data in nursing homes out of fears of a federal investigation, only expressing regret for failing to aggressively combat the “lies” early on.
Cuomo did not apologize for his administration’s March 25 directive, nor did he take responsibility for the original, inaccurate numbers of virus-related deaths in nursing homes. Rather, he spent a good portion of his Friday presser regretting that he did not fight the “lies” more aggressively in the beginning as the reports of possible malfeasance began to come out.
The Democrat governor only owned up to creating a “void,” which he said was “exploited with misinformation, people playing politics, Republicans playing politics, personal attacks, [and] personal agendas.” That led people who lost loved ones in nursing homes to “get confused” and wonder if their loved one died due to someone else’s mistake:
Those false statements must be countered. They must be or else people get confused. No one has a right to spread lies or misinformation that causes pain to families. I understand politics is a nasty business in this environment. I understand people lie. I get it. I get it. I live it every day. But this is different. This is causing pain to families who lost a loved one. That’s what they did.
Cuomo only expressed regret for not fighting back “against the lies and politics and the distortions aggressively enough,” accusing politicians of “making up stuff to get their face on TV.”
“But you have to knock it down and counter it and counter it aggressively. Otherwise, people, they believe it,” he said, telling reporters that he was “not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsity.”
“We were busy. We were doing our job. We were trying to save lives. No excuses,” he claimed despite claiming he was “busy” mere seconds before. “I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsities.”
“I heard them. I saw them. I dismissed it as politics. I dismissed it as personal agendas. I dismissed it as partisan politics which is at a fever pitch nowadays,” the Democrat said, reemphasizing that he is making “no excuses for that mistake.”
“It is an affront to truth to treat falsehood with compliance,” he said.
“That’s what I regret. I’m not going to make that mistake again,” Cuomo continued, promising to call people out for lying to the people of New York.
“If you’re lying in a newspaper because you have your own partisan agenda, I’m going to call it out,” he said, vowing to fight for New Yorkers “aggressively.”
Cuomo continued to defend his administration’s handling of nursing home data, contending that they “always” provided the information on total deaths and adding that nursing home deaths occurred “nationwide.”
It is a “lie,” he said, to say they were inaccurate in their reporting of the numbers.
“Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals,” he said, adding that he has “thick skin” and does not care what people say about him in this “nasty business.”
Cuomo’s defense comes as the state updated its numbers, revealing that coronavirus-related nursing home deaths were actually thousands more than originally reported, exceeding 15,000. While Cuomo contends that the March 25 directive did not introduce the virus in the majority of nursing homes, critics maintain that the directive likely caused more deaths by willingly increasing the number of cases in the facilities, thereby increasing exposure to the most vulnerable.
Melissa DeRosa, New York’s secretary to the governor, blew the lid off the administration’s nursing home coverup after apologizing to Democrat state lawmakers on a private phone call, admitting that the administration hid numbers out of fear of a federal investigation.
“So we do apologize. I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans,” she said.