ALBANY, NY – While trying to stem the growing outrage over the state’s handling of nursing homes during the epidemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched into a 90-minute defense of their actions on Friday while saying they were working in one. “Toxic Political Environment.”
Mr. Cuomo said he understood his long-standing resentment of the deaths in those facilities, but stressed that no state policy contributed to that toll. At the same time, however, the governor unveiled a series of reforms to address the management and safety of nursing homes, saying “this is the only way families will have mental peace.”
Mr. Cuomo’s remarks during a one-hour news conference at the State Capitol when he faced one of the biggest political crises of his decade-long tenure, including a federal investigation and a move to his administration. The governor’s fellow Democrats have used it during the epidemic to snatch it from unilateral emergency powers.
On Friday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another prominent Democrat from Queens, joined a chorus of lawmakers supporting an investigation into the state’s nursing home operations during the epidemic, noting that “thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers have lost their lives.” Lost his life. “
In a statement released during Mr. Ocasio’s news conference, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said, “Her loved ones and the public are entitled to answers and transparency from their elected leadership.”
The death count is at the heart of the issues facing the Cuomo administration. For months, the state has now had intercourse, much less the official deaths of residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The state counted the total losses, but attributed them to the hospitals where patients died, not the facilities where they lived, effectively taking those facilities to cover the toll.
But in the wake of a frightening report from the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, suggesting a major cause of deaths in nursing homes and long-term care residents, the state has now updated those numbers to more than 15,000, . 8,500 at the end of January.
On Friday, Mr. Cuomo again said he accepted the blame for that undercount – “I take responsibility for it all, period,” he said. In particular, the governor has repeatedly said, the lack of candor in releasing accurate figures has created space for publicizing misinformation.
“Cuomo said,” We created a void by not producing enough public information fast. “
But they simultaneously tried to re-air the debate, saying their criticism constituted actively motivated attacks by Republicans and others in a “toxic political environment”.
A similar message was repeated by Mr. Cuomo for most of the week, but the crisis did not show any signs of elimination.
Earlier in the week, Mr Cuomo verbally gave Queens Assembly member Ron T. Kim was attacked when he told reporters for The New York Times and CNN that Mr. He was sacked by Cuomo during a call, publicly urging him to tarnish and threaten the assembly. Issuing a statement to change the comment he made about the nursing home issue.
On Friday, Mr. Kim repeated his story to a national television audience during an appearance on ABC’s “The View”.
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“Kimo is an addict,” Mr. Kim said, calling on the governor last week. “He Has abused its powers. And abusers are cowardly. “
Mr. Cuomo’s office has portrayed Mr. Kim as a liar, and the governor on Wednesday suggested himself that the 2015 law governing nail salons accused of immoral and possibly criminal behavior , The MLA was corrupt. (Mr. Kim denied the allegations.)
Since Wednesday, Mr. Kim has received the support of several Democrats in Albany as well as City Hall.
“Look, I believe Ron Kim is what he experiences when he talks,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC. “And I believe there should really be a full investigation here because something has happened that there are potentially people who have lost their lives, lost family members who could have been saved, and not a relapse. Has happened.”
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Calls for Democrats’ investigation come on similar heels – and loudly – requesting scores of Republicans, both in New York and nationally, who, in the past year, largely because of their perceived merit, Mr. Has seen Cuomo prominently. As it dealt with the Coronavirus crisis, it devastated the state, killing more than 45,000 people.
With an unbreakable string of daily news conferences in the spring, Mr. Cuomo had earned a pledge for a steady performance and a fair approach. Last fall, that image was burned by a mid-epidemic memoir – offering “leadership lessons” – and the International Emmy Founder Award for it “His excellent use of television to inform and pacify people around the world. “
But that image began to be exposed after the Attorney General’s findings emerged, and other news reports showing Mr. Cuomo had sometimes abandoned the advice of medical experts in directing his response to the epidemic.
Questions about the handling of the nursing home governor have worsened since March, when A. guidelines The memo was issued asking people to accept or re-read such facilities that were positive for the virus, a measure Mr. Cuomo said was justified and enforced by federal guidelines So that hospitals are not overwhelmed with patients. Nevertheless, as the deaths occurred in nursing homes, there was speculation that the guidance – which was canceled in mid-May – could spread among a vulnerable population due to the virus.
The controversy erupted into a full-fledged public relations crisis a week ago, when Mr. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRassa, admitted in a private conversation that the administration did not know of the exact cases of death caused by state lawmakers at a toll Has given President Donald J. Investigation by the Department of Justice under Trump.
Mr. Demosa said Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Trump were often concerned, and the governor was concerned that the investigation was politically motivated, and that the information was “about to be used against us.”
“Basically, we freeze,” Ms. Derasa told MPs.
That admission attracted the interest of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who have launched preliminary investigations seeking information about the death count.
Mr. Kyomo made no mention of the federal investigation on Friday, but defended his health department and administration, saying “I am not going to allow people to lie to the people of New York” as the state’s response to the epidemic ” Saved thousands of lives. “
Nevertheless, he also said that he felt sad for the families who had lost their loved ones, acknowledging that some factors were beyond their control.
“If anyone had the right answer to the deaths in the house, and if anyone tells you they do, they are lying,” he said. “Because people are going to die in nursing homes.”
Luis Fer-Sadurni Contributed to reporting.