NEWS & ANALYSIS

Cuomo Advisers Tampered with Evidence


“Tampering with evidence can be any action that destroys, alters, conceals, or falsifies any sort of evidence. The definition of evidence is also very broad and includes any object, a document, or any sort of record useful to an investigation or inquiry.”

In the latest update regarding the “Love Gov,” Andrew Cuomo’s top advisers successfully altered a report on COVID-19 nursing home deaths. 

Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse…

Cuomo’s advisers pushed state health officials to strip a public report of data showing that more nursing home residents had died of COVID-19 than the administration had previously acknowledged, according to the Wall Street Journal.  

The July report, which examined the factors that catalyzed the spread of the virus in nursing homes, focused only on residents who died inside the facilities, leaving out those who had died in hospitals after becoming sick in the long-term-care homes. Thus, the report said 6,432 residents had died, which is a significant misrepresentation of the actual death toll: nearly 10,000. 

The changes made to the report, which haven’t been previously disclosed reveal that the state possessed a fuller accounting of out-of-facility nursing home deaths as early as the summer. The Health Department resisted calls by state and federal lawmakers, the media and others to release the data for eight months afterwards. 

State officials are now revealing that over 15,000 residents were confirmed or presumed to have died from the virus since March of last year, taking into account those that died in and out of the facilities. 

That means the numbers were fumbled by 50 percent. 

Cuomo is in deep water as two scandals pull him further under: the nursing homes and the sexual harassment allegations. 

But, he rejected calls for his resignation and “apologized” for his behavior. He also said his administration followed federal guidance in trying to preserve hospital capacity. 

Defend till the end, Cuomo. 

Administration officials said that Cuomo’s advisers advocated against including data on out-of-facility deaths because they had concerns about the accuracy. 

“The out-of-facility data was omitted after the DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified,” Beth Garvey, a special counsel and senior adviser to Cuomo, said in a statement. 

An official familiar with the situation said state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker agreed that the out-of-facility data should not be included in the report. 

“[The Department of Health] was comfortable with the final report and believes fully in its conclusion that the primary driver that introduced Covid into the nursing homes was brought by staff,” said Gary Holmes, a spokesperson for the Health Department. 

However, state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argue that out-of-facility death rates are critical for them to evaluate nursing home policies that could prevent future fatalities. 

It seems like Cuomo’s administration is beating around the bush and throwing the blame around in circles. 

The initial version of the report submitted to Cuomo’s team for review included the total number of deaths – both in and out of the nursing homes. While health department officials agreed to remove the data, they resisted Cuomo aides’ request to alter the report to play down the role of Cuomo’s March 25 directive in the spread of the virus, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The directive urged that no nursing home could refuse to readmit residents or admit new residents from hospitals because of a positive virus diagnosis. 

Essentially, they were welcoming in positive residents to alleviate space in hospitals, which caused widespread transmission and death. 

The Cuomo administration rescinded the directive in May, but the damage had already been done, which they have since tried to cover up.