New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cheered President Joe Biden’s Justice Department during a press conference Monday for opting against investigating what he called an “outrageous allegation” that his policies contributed to nursing home COVID-19 deaths in his state.
The Department of Justice informed Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise in a letter Friday that it would not pursue investigations into whether policies implemented in New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania that required nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients inflated the death toll among the vulnerable population. The DOJ said in its letter that it opted against conducting investigations after reviewing data provided by the states.
Cuomo reiterated his claim that his administration’s early-pandemic policy of prohibiting nursing homes from denying admission to patients based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, a claim rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact over 13 months ago.
“The political environment has gotten so toxic in this country. So toxic, so mean. It was an outrageous allegation,” Cuomo said. “New York followed the CDC guidance. CDC is a federal agency that’s supposed to know what they’re talking about in terms of health. We followed the CDC guidance when it came to how we handled people in nursing homes and when they went to a hospital, when they were brought back to a nursing home.”
Former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in May 2020 that Cuomo was wrong to say his nursing home order was in line with Trump administration policies, noting that federal guidance at the time said nursing homes should only accept COVID-positive patients as long as they have the capacity to follow certain precautions spelled out by the CDC.
Cuomo’s order did not contain any such exemptions.
Cuomo added Monday that he has always told the truth about COVID since the start of the pandemic, despite his administration knowingly undercounting nursing home deaths from the virus during much of 2020, as first reported by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Cuomo says that he told the truth on Covid "from day 1." pic.twitter.com/NgWsGOWgf5
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) July 26, 2021
“Whether they were easy, whether they were hard, I told you the truth,” Cuomo said. “While a lot of people were talking politics, and a lot of people were talking theory and a lot of people were trying to deny because they didn’t want to deliver bad news, I told you the truth.”
The Cuomo administration confirmed in January it had undercounted nursing home deaths in the state by over 4,200 due to its policy of only reporting residents who died while physically in nursing homes.
“Of course, this was political hyperbole, and of course this fed into the politics of the time,” Cuomo said Monday in reference to former President Donald Trump. “Democratic governors caused COVID. President had nothing to do with anything. But this kind of toxic politics is bad.”
“It was toxic politics. It violated the basic concept of justice in this nation, and it did a lot of harm and a lot of damage,” Cuomo said. “And it went on too long. I mean, this went on for like a year until finally, the Department of Justice dismissed it.”