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NY Assemblyman alleges Cuomo threats over scandal
Assembly Member Ron Kim said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “berated” him during a private phone call last week for criticism he felt was unfair over his handling of COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. (Feb.18)
The claim: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces calls for impeachment
It has been almost a year since the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging the U.S. and elsewhere. In that year, the virus has infected at least 28 million Americans and killed nearly 500,000.
When the virus first landed in the U.S., the state of New York, particularly New York City, was hit the hardest.
At that time, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefings made him a household name across the country while the state worked to get the virus under control.
Praise for Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus went so far that in November he received the International Emmy Founders Award for his 111 briefings.
But in recent weeks, Cuomo and his administration have been under fire, accused of misreporting or undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
One viral Instagram video, from the political news account polialertcom, shows a news clip from CNN about calls for Cuomo’s impeachment.
The caption reads, “New York Gov. #AndrewCuomo is facing calls for impeachment after a top aide alleged the administration delayed the release of data on Covid-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents because of concerns about a potential federal investigation.”
Controversy surrounding nursing home data
Despite the initial praise for his handling of COVID-19, there has been increasing criticism, from both Democrats and Republicans, directed at Cuomo and his team’s handling of data after an aide admitted withholding nursing home data.
Initially, the administration had released data only on the number of nursing home residents who had died from the coronavirus while in the homes. State lawmakers also were seeking data that showed the number of residents who died in hospitals.
The comments about withholding data were made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa in a private Zoom call with Democratic lawmakers after the Justice Department inquired about the state’s coronavirus response. Cuomo’s administration has since released a partial transcript of the call.
“Basically, we froze because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys and what we start saying was going to be used against us, and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa later said in a statement that she was trying to explain that when the administration received the federal inquiry, it had to set aside the state Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first.
The comments only further agitated the bipartisan push for an investigation into the data and New York’s handling of the coronavirus.
Those calls center on information that revealed the true coronavirus death toll for the state’s nursing homes – 13,000 deaths versus the 8,700 originally reported. The death count reaches 15,000 when other facilities are included.
“Andrew Cuomo must be prosecuted and Andrew Cuomo must be impeached if this evidence exists,” New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said.
On Feb. 15, Cuomo conceded that the state should have released nursing home data sooner but was unable to do so, citing pandemic-related workload and a restrictive federal inquiry by former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department.
“More than anything it was just a capacity issue,” Cuomo said. “Remember, at the same time we’re managing the pandemic – that’s what everyone was doing, and these things take time, and the No. 1 priority was saving peoples’ lives.”
Though he conceded that the data should have been released sooner, Cuomo maintained that “there is nothing to investigate,” adding that the administration has provided the information to the Justice Department.
Our ruling: True
The claim in the post has been rated TRUE. Some New York Republicans are calling for the impeachment of Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his administration’s handling of data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
Our fact check sources:
- USA TODAY, March 29, “New York is at war with the coronavirus. Expect the same across the US, experts warn.“
- New York State, Past Coronavirus Briefings
- International Emmy Awards, Nov. 20, 2020, “NEW YORK GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO TO RECEIVE 2020 INTERNATIONAL EMMY® FOUNDERS AWARD“
- USA TODAY, Feb. 14, 2020, “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide admits withholding COVID-19 nursing home data amid Justice Department inquiry“
- Phone call transcript
- USA TODAY, Feb. 15, 2020, “‘There is nothing to investigate’: Gov. Andrew Cuomo defends New York’s handlieng of COVID-19 in nursing homes“
- USA TODAY, Feb. 9, “Deaths in New York nursing homes and assisted living reach nearly 15,000. Here’s where.“
- CNN, Feb. 15, “Gov. Cuomo facing impeachment calls over alleged Covid-19 cover-up“
- Fox News, Feb. 16, “14 Democrats in NY Senate want repeal of Cuomo’s emergency powers“
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